UK Home Secretary Sayid Javid has officially notified parliament of serious flaws in the way British security and intelligence agencies have been handling information lawfully intercepted under warrants. The Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) immediately launched a probe.

Owen Bowcott reported on the Home Secretary’s startling admission in The Guardian:

The IPCO report concluded the risks were both “serious and required immediate mitigation”. Work to implement those mitigations is “being treated as a matter of the highest priority, both by MI5 and the Home Office”, the statement added.

The home secretary said he had established an independent review to “consider and report back” on what lessons could be learned. The data involved could have included private messages, digital browsing histories and location information but the categories of information involved are likely to remain secret.

Megan Goulding, a lawyer at Liberty, said: “This is a clear-cut example of how the supposed safeguarding and oversight system is failing to protect us from the excessive and unwarranted surveillance and data retention powers created under the ‘snooper’s charter’.

“The breach in itself is deeply concerning but on top of that the way this has unfolded – with IPCO only finding out because MI5 reported it, and the wider public only knowing apparently because of our legal case – shows how fatally flawed the oversight system for security services is.

“It is possible, from what is known, that millions of innocent people’s data is being shared widely with foreign governments. If the government has its way, we will never know if this is the case. surveillance by agents, among other things.