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British spy agency has access to global communications, shares info with NSA

The British spy agency GCHQ has access to the global network of communications, storing calls, Facebook posts and internet histories – and shares this data with the NSA, Edward Snowden has revealed to the Guardian in a new leak.

GCHQ’s network of cables is able to process massive quantities of information from both specific targets and completely innocent people, including recording phone calls and reading email messages, it was revealed on Friday.

“It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight,” Snowden told the Guardian. “They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.”

Edward Snowden (AFP Photo)

The Government Communications Headquarters agency has two different programs, aimed at carrying out this online and telephone monitoring – categorized under ‘Mastering the Internet’ and ‘Global Telecoms Exploitation.’ Both have been conducted in the absence of any public knowledge, reports the Guardian.

“If you remember, even the NSA said that they did not record phone calls, but according to these latest revelations by Edward Snowden, that up to ‘600 million’ telephone events last year were recorded a day by the GCHQ,” said RT’s Tesa Arcilla from London.

“There’s no doubt as to what the objectives of these programs were, having put them in place,” she said, emphasizing the titles.

The agency is able to store the volumes of data it amasses from fiber-optic cables for up to 30 days in an operation codenamed Tempora. The practice has been going on for around 18 months.

GCHQ which was handling 600m telephone ‘events’ a day, according to the documents, had tapped into over 200 fiber-optic cables and had the capacity to analyze data from over 46 of them at a time.

The cables used by GCHQ can carry data at 10 gigabits per second, which in theory, means they could deliver up to 21petabytes of information per day. The program is continuing to develop on a daily basis with the agency aiming to expand to the point it is able to process terabits (thousands of gigabits) of data at once.

“This appears to be dangerously close to, if not exactly, the centralised database of all our internet communications, including some content, that successive Governments have ruled out and Parliament has never legislated for,” said Nick Pickles of UK privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.

“If GCHQ have been intercepting huge numbers of innocent people’s communications as part of a massive sweeping exercise then I struggle to see how that squares with a process that requires a warrant for each individual intercept. This question must be urgently be addressed in Parliament,” he stated.

 

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