Paper: UK government getting US spy agency's data (Update)

Jun 07, 2013 by Raphael Satter
An aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah, Thursday, June 6, 2013. The government is secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order, according to the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Obama administration is defending the National Security Agency's need to collect such records, but critics are calling it a huge over-reach. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The U.K. has been secretly gathering communications data from American Internet giants with the help of fellow spooks at the U.S. National Security Agency, the Guardian newspaper reported Friday, a demonstration of the international scope of America's top-secret espionage program.

The Guardian said it had seen documents showing how the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ has had access to America's "PRISM" electronic eavesdropping system since at least June 2010, adding that the data had generated nearly 200 intelligence reports over the past year.

GCHQ declined to comment on the story Friday, saying only that it takes its legal obligations "very seriously."

The Guardian said evidence for GCHQ's involvement came from the same 41-page Powerpoint presentation cited Thursday by both that paper and The Washington Post as the basis for their reports on PRISM, a heretofore-unknown eavesdropping program used to collect emails, documents, audio, video, and other data from major Internet companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple.

While PRISM is theoretically targeted at data belonging to foreigners on foreign soil, the Post said that the spies merely have to believe there's a better than even chance that the target is foreign before scooping up its data. The paper also cited training material as saying that inadvertently spying on Americans was "nothing to worry about."

It's not clear whether British officials would be subject to the same restrictions with respect to their own citizens, and the traditionally close links between GCHQ and the NSA have already worried some in the U.K. who fear that British spies may be eavesdropping on their own citizens through American espionage programs.

"The U.K. government must tell us what they knew about PRISM," said Jim Killock, who directs the London-based Open Rights Group. In a statement released earlier Friday, Killock called for an investigation into "whether the U.K. government or intelligence agencies were in any way involved with any related invasion of U.K. citizens' privacy."

Explore further: Report: FBI's anthrax investigation was flawed

More information: The report: www.guardian.co.uk/technology/… telligence-nsa-prism
GCHQ: www.gchq.gov.uk/Pages/homepage.aspx
Open Rights Group: www.openrightsgroup.org

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New reports allege vast US Internet spying sweep

Jun 07, 2013

US spies are secretly tapping into servers of nine Internet giants including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google in a vast anti-terror sweep targeting foreigners, explosive reports said Thursday.

US declassifies phone program details after uproar (Update 3)

Jun 07, 2013

The disclosure of the U.S. government's massive collection of Americans' phone records and foreigners' internet use has ignited a fierce uproar, prompting the top U.S. intelligence official to declassify key details about a secret surveillance program in a rare move meant to ...

What you should know about NSA phone data program

Jun 06, 2013

A leaked document disclosed the monumental scale of the U.S. government's surveillance of America's phone records, part of a massive data collection program aimed at combating terrorism.

UK spy agency asks academics to tackle cyber risks

Sep 13, 2012

(AP)—Britain's government says a new research institute partly funded by the country's eavesdropping spy agency will ask mathematicians and computer scientists to join the fight against cyber threats.

Web inventor warns UK on surveillance plans

Apr 18, 2012

(AP) -- The scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web says he's warned Britain's government to ditch plans to extend surveillance of Internet activity.

Recommended for you

Report: FBI's anthrax investigation was flawed

22 hours ago

The FBI used flawed scientific methods to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 others, federal auditors said Friday in a report sure to fuel skepticism over the FBI's ...

Study reveals mature motorists worse at texting and driving

Dec 18, 2014

A Wayne State University interdisciplinary research team in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has made a surprising discovery: older, more mature motorists—who typically are better drivers in ...

Napster co-founder to invest in allergy research

Dec 17, 2014

(AP)—Napster co-founder Sean Parker missed most of his final year in high school and has ended up in the emergency room countless times because of his deadly allergy to nuts, shellfish and other foods.

LA mayor plans 7,000 police body cameras in 2015

Dec 16, 2014

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a plan Tuesday to equip 7,000 Los Angeles police officers with on-body cameras by next summer, making LA's police department the nation's largest law enforcement agency to move ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.