LONDON: A UK spy agency has been secretly accessing the network of cables, which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic, the Guardian has reported.
The UK’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is already beginning to process vast streams of personal information of many civilians and is sharing the information with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA), the British newspaper said.
The agency’s controversial plan is to scoop up as much online and telephone traffic as possible, under its Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation program.
Even though many analysts may see the move as a breach of innocent people’s privacy, it is being carried out without any debate or the public’s knowledge.
GCHQ has the ability to tap into and store huge amounts of data taken from optic-fiber cables for up to 30 days so that it can be filtered and examined.
This operation is codenamed Tempora and has been running for around 18 months.
The British newspaper said it has seen the information in documents leaked to it by American whistleblower, Edward Snowden.
Snowden, who has blown the lid off NSA operations, says he has tried to disclose what he described as “the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history”.
“[It is not just a] US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight. They [GCHQ] are worse than the US,” he said.