Monday, 24 June 2013

The Guardian reveals Britain's GCHQ is the biggest spier of them all. They tap into fibre-optic cables called 'Tempora'. Extraordinary.

The Guardian is really on the spying case and has revealed that Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to cables which carry vast amounts of the world's phone/data traffic. They are literally, physically, tapping into those cables. 

It is also sharing that collected data with its friends in America, The NSA.

Codenamed Tempora, they've been drawing down the data from fibre-optic cables for some 18 months and it includes content of emails, all phone call data, facebook postings and data history (of visited websites). The disclosure comes from Edward Snowden.

Last year, the British were handling 600 million data "events" a day - that's a lot of data and probably makes them bigger spiers than any other country. It was done as the cables or pipes landed physically on British shores and with the co-operation clearly of commercial companies. All under the ongoing defence of the needs for 'national security' but one has the wonder if the biggest threat to national security is indeed the Government itself.

For example, one of the secret justifications by GCHQ outside of terrorism is "economic well-being" which covers a multitude. Perhaps currency trading? Market data? And the fact that they'll defend this by saying that they discard much of the data (which they do) it's because the documents reveal, that they simply don't have the resources - yet. Not because they want to discard it.

And it gives them the option to look back over discarded material when they need to.

There's no doubt now that the UK and US Governments have extensive digital spying networks on the privacy of their own citizens. Whilst few would disagree that the goal of preventing terrorism is worthy, few would agree that the use of data for political ends is. And these networks allow for that abuse.

Trust me too, this data is being used improperly and without control. Nixon had to break into the Watergate building, Obama and Cameron, don't. They just have to watch from behind their desks. Be sure, they are.