UK phone companies turned a profit by shoveling customer data into GCHQ's maw

A fresh set of Snowden leaks show that the UK spy agency GCHQ turned spying into a profit centre for Britain's telcos, who received huge cash payouts in exchange for turning over their customers' private communications and developing spyware to infect customers' computers in order to extract more data.

But the fresh leaks also claim to be showing another side of the secret deal, with telecom majors allegedly receiving rewards for developing the spying software for GCHQ on their own. Such software could come in a form of Trojan viruses installed on targeted computers, the reports say, stating that the companies' involvement in data collection is much larger and more complicated than previously thought.

The reports also list network attacks and deliberate disinformation as the tactics employed by the UK's intelligence agency in their task for 'dominating' the internet.

So far, all but one of the providers listed in the report failed to directly confirm or deny the claims, some saying they comply with the law of the countries they operate in. German market leader Level 3 denied providing access to its communication networks to "any foreign government," according to SZ. But the news agency then speculated that the company could still serve as a hub for outside data transfer, as in 2011 it acquired the Global Crossing, inheriting its foreign networks – and, possibly, agreements.

Telecom giants give GCHQ unlimited access to networks, develop own spyware – Snowden leaks [Russia Today]