The UK government slipped out consultation documents on "equipment interference" and "interception of communications" (read: computer hacking by police and g-men) on Friday.
They were made public on the same day that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that the spying revelations exposed by master blabbermouth Edward Snowden had accidentally made British spooks' data-sharing love-in with the NSA legal.
The Home Office said it was seeking responses from Brits on its revised and updated draft Interception of Communications Code of Practice (PDF) and a newly-proposed equipment interference code (PDF).
"The purpose of the codes is to make publicly available more information about the robust safeguards that apply to the police and the security and intelligence agencies in their use of investigatory powers," said Secretary of State Theresa May's department.
In a ministerial foreword (PDF), Tory MP James Brokenshire said:
There are limits on what can be said in public about this work. But it is imperative that the government is as open as it can be about these capabilities and how they are used.
The public and Parliament needs to have confidence that there is a robust statutory framework for the use of such intrusive investigative powers and that there is a strong system of safeguards in place.
Among other things, the draft snooping guidelines – which are subject to a six-week consultation period ending on 20 March – highlight supposed "safeguards" used by Blighty's security services for techniques such as "computer network exploitation" to try to track down suspected terrorists and paedophiles. ®