Any requests by GCHQ for access to British citizens' emails through a controversial US internet monitoring programme would need proper legal authority, potentially including the personal approval of a minister, is the statement given by Sir Malcolm Rifkind the chairman of the committee monitoring the UK's spies, on this mornings Today programme.
He also said "some intrusion on privacy" was necessary to protect the public, but British intelligence agencies would normally need ministerial authority for access to information about UK citizens. What he did not say was whether this is happening now, and that is because he cannot say it as he is not allowed to say it.
Something we always forget in these situations is that yes it is going on, it has always gone on and it will always continue to go on but it will never be announced that it is going on, because they [the politicians] are not allowed to say that it is going on.
So why do we care?
The row crossed the Atlantic after documents emerged suggesting British eavesdropping agency GCHQ had access to the system since at least June 2010 is what is causing the problem. If this story continues it might get to a point where an announcement is made that will be regretted for a very long time, and that’s the real problem, not that it is going on but that we now admit it!