GCHQ headquarters
GCHQ, whose headquarters are in Cheltenham, must be regulated much more tightly, according to David Davis.Getty

GCHQ should be placed under judicial regulation, according to a senior Conservative MP.

David Davis, who ran for the position of Tory party leader in 2005 and lost to David Cameron, said that Britain's surveillance agency should be subject to much tighter regulation.

"The problem is there is a whole series of laws and it is never clear which is being used and some are incredibly open-ended," said Davis, who has in recent years spoken out in favour of online privacy.

According to Davis, the Snowden case demonstrates that the regulations constraining GCHQ are extremely light-touch, and the system is "very poor".

He said: "It [GCHQ] should be under judicial control and I would be happy if it was set up as a separate regime out of the control of Government and under a judge. I think we could kill off a lot of these problems if we put it under a judge's control system, who would comment publicly."

The Haltemprice and Howden MP also said that the 1984 Telecommunications Act gives Home Secretary Theresa May excessive power over Britain's telcos. According to Davis, May can tell firms such as BT and EE to do whatever she wants.

Regarding the future of GCHQ, Davis struck a note of caution. He referred to comments made by Ross Anderson, from the University of Cambridge, suggesting that the best students can work at GCHQ for £25,000 or for a private firm in California for $250,000.

"I'm not in a position to know, but if you are a top rate programmer, you have got to be very patriotic to work in the public sector," he said.

"It is not just that, you are making a huge sacrifice. A person working in the MoD is not giving up huge amounts of money, in GCHQ you are. So typically circumstance is the state is always a step behind the hacker."

Dan Raywood is the editor of IT Security Guru.