UK spies have access to NSA Prism, which has "direct access" to world's largest Internet companies' servers

A report by Nick Hopkins in the Guardian accuses the UK spy agency GCHQ of making use of the American NSA's Prism program, which was revealed in leaked documents earlier today -- a slide presentation claiming that the NSA had direct access to the servers at Google, Microsoft, Apple, and many other Internet giants.

According to Hopkins, GCHQ has been able to access Prism since Jun 2010. This is based on information from the same leaked slide deck, apparently:

Unless GCHQ has stopped using Prism, the agency has accessed information from the programme for at least three years. It is not mentioned in the latest report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner Office, which scrutinises the way the UK's three security agencies use the laws covering the interception and retention of data.

Asked to comment on its use of Prism, GCHQ said it "takes its obligations under the law very seriously. Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the intelligence and security committee".

The agency refused to be drawn on how long it had been using Prism, how many intelligence reports it had gleaned from it, or which ministers knew it was being used.

A GCHQ spokesperson added: "We do not comment on intelligence matters."

UK gathering secret intelligence via covert NSA operation


  1. I guess the reality portrayed by the  web comic “The Private Eye” is coming sooner rather than latter.

  2. Intelligence Laundering: There are strict laws about when you can spy on your own citizens. The laws don’t apply to foreigners. So you share your information with foreign intelligence agencies. You scratch their back, they scratch yours. Now its information received from foreign networks which you can use.

    1. It’s also possible that GCHQ’s access falls under the UKUSA Security Agreement.

      Also, each of the 16 agencies within the US Intelligence Community has their own sets of individual mandates and restrictions, some of which are more forgiving of domestic surveillance than others.

      That doesn’t justify any of this or make the situation any less horrible.

    2. Yes, strict laws that the NSA ignored.

      I like Henry Kissinger’s quote: “Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.'”

  3. I smell lotsa rats with this whole thing.  Specifically, I smell:
    -another Obama takedown try, like with the IRS
    -outright lying by major corporations
    -unconstitutional behavior by NSA, etc.
    -a generally non-private Internet under the guise of privacy
    -enemies getting access to more stuff they shouldn’t have, because of chaos
    -media over-hype
    -a possible ruse fake slideshow to get everybody riled up

      1. That’s what they want you to think.  Stick a strip of uncooked bacon on your front window and someone you need to talk to will visit you later that night.

  4. Can someone send me the date and time the revolution starts ?
    I’m getting bored waiting

  5. The governments always claim to have stacks of secret successes that justify these programs, although YOU don’t have a need to know about those successes.

    No one talks about the false positives, or what effect it has on an innocent person’s life to be a false positive.

    1. They got Osama!  They got Osama!  When then actually have any success (even pyrrhic victories like Osama, about 10 years too late), they shout it from the rooftops.  

      So, I’m guessing they got nothing…

      1. On this matter we have only “the word” of a known liar who promised “transparency” and “hope” but instead spied on us even worse than his predecessor.

    2. Once in awhile a false-positive story comes out. The one that comes to mind is in the UK. Some privacy advocate or something like that (I hope I’m not mixing up my conspiracies) was exhibiting suspicious behavior – hanging around too long somewhere, something like that. What the GESTAPO paid him a friendly visit, they found a suspicious drawing that that thought might just be a map to London’s subway system. Of course the drawing was just some doodle, I think it even had a rough sketch of a TV set it in.

      I wonder if the intel community has any idea at all what buffoons they look like at times.

  6. I wonder just how far this rabbit hole goes? Is CSIS also in on this?  Have we all been living in a 100% surveillance state for the past decade without anyone knowing (I know AT&T was in on it, but seriously… this is getting beyond the joke)

    1. If what my mom told me is true about a phone call from my grandfather to her about a specific library book when he was still working for army/dod intel I think they have been doing as much as they can for as long as there has been intel and law enforcement agencies. It is just now so easy to gather up everything than it was back in the late 60s when I was still in utero. I know that records through grandchildren are kept so at  the least my kid is file free (or at least no more than any other joe citizen) but I have an official record out there somewhere.

      1.  I’d like an app that just calls random numbers all day, leaving random voice mails.

  7. “We do not comment on intelligence matters.” 

    See? ‘Fuck you. That’s why’ really does work wonders.

  8. The UK is part of the “Five Eyes”… consortium? US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, also called AUSCANNZUKUS. Wasn’t that the name of a Nazi concentration camp?

  9. Microsoft advert for IE : “Your privacy is our priority”

    I reckon we can get the advertising standards people to pull all their adverts.

Comments are closed.