MI5 Feared GCHQ Went ‘Too Far’ Over Phone and Internet Monitoring

via The Guardian GCHQ

Amid leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, senior intelligence source reveals worries were voiced in 2008

Senior figures inside British intelligence have been alarmed by GCHQ‘s (Government Communications Headquarters) secret decision to tap into transatlantic cables in order to engage in the bulk interception of phone calls and internet traffic.

According to one source who has been directly involved in GCHQ operations, concerns were expressed when the project was being discussed internally in 2008: “We felt we were starting to overstep the mark with some of it. People from MI5 were complaining that they were going too far from a civil liberties perspective … We all had reservations about it, because we all thought: ‘If this was used against us, we wouldn’t stand a chance’.”

The Guardian revealed on Friday that GCHQ has placed more than 200 probes on transatlantic cables and is processing 600m “telephone events” a day as well as up to 39m gigabytes of internet traffic. Using a programme codenamed Tempora, it can store and analyse voice recordings, the content of emails, entries on Facebook, the use of websites as well as the “metadata” which records who has contacted who. The programme is shared with GCHQ’s American partner, the National Security Agency.

Interviews with the UK source and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden raise questions about whether the programme:

■ Exploits existing law which was passed by parliament without any anticipation that it would be used for this purpose.

■ For the first time allows GCHQ to process bulk internal UK traffic which is routed overseas via these cables.

■ Allows the NSA to engage in bulk intercepts of internal US traffic which would be forbidden in its own territory.

■ Functions with no effective oversight.

The key law is the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Ripa, which requires the home secretary or foreign secretary to sign warrants for the interception of the communications of defined targets. But the law also allows the foreign secretary to sign certificates that authorise GCHQ to trawl for broad categories of information on condition that one end of the communication is outside the UK.

According to the UK source: “Not so long ago, this was all about attaching crocodile clips to copper wires. And it was all about voice. Now, it’s about the internet – massive scale – but still using the same law that was devised for crocodile clips. Ripa was primarily designed for voice, not for this level of interception. They are going round Ripa. The legislation doesn’t exist for this. They are using old legislation and adapting it.”


  • echar

    Who else is spying?

    • BuzzCoastin

      every gruberment in the whirled is spying
      and it’s Spy vs Spy a daze long
      but I admire the Chinese gruberment
      they don’t try to pretend their not
      and no Chinese citizen is dull witted enough to assume they’re not

      • echar

        What you mean America is not the only one and the best at spying?

        • BuzzCoastin

          it’s probably the best
          because it spends the most

          spying is also big bizmess for Uncle Homeland
          he sells the other spies their gear
          sometimes with their knowledge
          sometimes not

          • echar

            I wonder who ships for them, Bectyl, Carlyle, Haliburton?

          • BuzzCoastin

            Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, AT&T

          • echar

            I was thinking cold war spies.

          • echar

            Oh hey, this means no one gets hurt. No harm… No foul… Right?

  • rtb61

    This has nothing to do with terrorism or crime. It is a giant political extortion scheme aimed at politicians and their families.
    The gathering of embarrassing and criminal activity of politicians and their families in order to force obedience, to a corporate contractor controlled government intelligence apparatus.
    Uncle Tom Obama, co-conspirator or Choom Gang victim, either way the coward is signing of power to psychopaths in corporations and the CIA. This is about a corrupt scheme to take over total control of government and to silence all complaints and challenges.

    • echar

      Is this like how Franklin D. Roosevelt had dirt on everyone, or am i thinking of another President?

  • http://joenolan.com/blog Joe Nolan

    Thanks, Brother. I thought this said “MC5.” That’s an article I’d love to read!