Cameron: UK public has shrugged off NSA leaks

January 30, 2014

Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday he believes the British public has largely shrugged off the espionage disclosures of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, telling lawmakers that people seem to be satisfied that U.K. spies are doing their jobs.

The editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper, which played a critical role in bringing Snowden's revelations to light, said recently that there had been "barely a whisper" from British politicians about the disclosures. Alan Rusbridger contrasted Britain's political response to the impassioned debate in the United States—where intelligence chiefs have repeatedly been summoned to Congress, lawmakers have called for an end to domestic surveillance and top officials have proposed reforms to the NSA's work.

Cameron, however, suggested Thursday that Britons simply weren't that upset.

"I don't think Snowden's had an enormous public impact," he told Parliament. "I think the public reaction, as I judge it, has not been one of: 'Shock! Horror!' It's been much more: 'Intelligence agencies carry out intelligence work. Good.'"

Cameron had been fielding questions from about whether the leaks—which exposed mass surveillance activities by the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ—had shaken public confidence in Britain's .

Cameron said he believed the agencies' oversight was "robust," but added: "I don't rule out trying to improve it."

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