The UK’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world’s biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America’s top spy agency, says the Guardian.
The news came just after US president Barack Obama, “offered a robust defense of the government surveillance programs revealed this week, and sought to reassure the public that his administration has not become a Big Brother with eyes and ears throughout the world of online communications,” according to the New York Times, which quoted him as promising:
“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls.”
Now,“documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last years says the Guardian story, continuing
The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.
The use of Prism raises ethical and legal issues about such direct access to potentially millions of internet users, as well as questions about which British ministers knew of the programme.
In a statement to the Guardian, GCHQ, insisted it “takes its obligations under the law very seriously”.
The details of GCHQ’s use of Prism are set out in documents prepared for senior analysts working at America’s National Security Agency, the biggest eavesdropping organisation in the world.
Dated April this year, the papers describe the remarkable scope of a previously undisclosed “snooping” operation which gave the NSA and the FBI easy access to the systems of nine of the world’s biggest internet companies. The group includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.
Now you know — or do you?
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