Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency has gained secret access to fibre-optic cables carrying global Internet traffic and telephone calls, The Guardian said on Saturday citing documents disclosed by US intelligence technician Ed Snowden.
The latest claims sparked fresh outcry from privacy campaigners and surfaced as the United States filed espionage charges against 30-year-old Snowden and asked Hong Kong — where he has fled to — to detain him.
The Guardian said Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has started processing vast amounts of personal information -- including Facebook posts, emails, Internet histories and phone calls -- and is sharing it with its US partner the National Security Agency (NSA).
GCHQ added however that it was “scrupulous” in its compliance with the law.
The newspaper reported that GCHQ was able to tap into and store data from the cables for up to 30 days.
“It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight,” Snowden told the newspaper. “They (GCHQ) are worse than the US.”
Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong in May, has since proceeded to leak details of secret US intelligence programmes to international media outlets.
The Guardian claimed Tempora had been running for 18 months and GCHQ and the NSA were able to access vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2013.
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