This concluding slide from an undated GCHQ presentation on Tempora reminds analysts that they are in a “enviable” and “privileged” position – “you have access to a lot of sensitive data… have fun and make the most of it”: see the Guardian article Mastering the internet: how GCHQ set out to spy on the world wide web, 21 June 2013.
Since the first reporting on documents disclosed by Edward Snowden in June 2013, a number of legal challenges to GCHQ’s surveillance practices have been initiated in the UK. Today, in response to one of those applications, from Liberty and several other organisations, the court that oversees the GCHQ ruled against the UK intelligence services for the first time in its controversial 15 year history.
These July 2009 documents provide a full list of the fibre-optic cables GCHQ had access to at that point, including details of location, bandwidth and corporate partners: see the Süddeutsche Zeitung article Snowden-Leaks: How Vodafone-Subsidiary Cable & Wireless Aided GCHQ’s Spying Efforts, 25 November 2014.
These screenshots from GCHQ’s internal GCWiki describe progress on the MTI (Mastering the Internet) cable access project, also known as Tempora. Prominent within these reports is the close cooperation with corporate partner Cable & Wireless / Vodafone, codenamed GEROTIC: see the Süddeutsche Zeitung article Snowden-Leaks: How Vodafone-Subsidiary Cable & Wireless Aided GCHQ’s Spying Efforts, 25 November 2011.
This internal NSA post dated 19 September 2012, describes GCHQ’s operation Tempora which, make “more than 40 billion pieces of content a day” available to analysts from both agencies: see the Der Spiegel article The NSA in Germany: Snowden’s Documents Available for Download, 18 June 2014.
This page from GCHQ’s internal GCWiki, last edited in May 2012, provides background information on the agency’s “internet buffer business capability”: see the Der Spiegel article The NSA in Germany: Snowden’s Documents Available for Download, 18 June 2014.
The Guardian has today printed a new interview with Edward Snowden, conducted by Ewan MacAskill and Alan Rusbridger last week in Moscow. Two video clips from this interview have already been published; one in which Edward Snowden discussed the UK’s new surveillance law and a longer fifteen minute excerpt which touches on many of the issues in the full article.
UK MPs have been told that, not only is the legal regime governing GCHQ likely to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, many of the agency’s activities are illegal even by current domestic standards.
Jemima Stratford QC and Tim Johnston were asked to prepare the opinion for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drones. While APPGs have no formal powers within the UK political system some – like the APPG on Extraordinary Rendition – have done important investigatory work in areas where formal oversight has been lacking.
While legislative proposals based on this opinion have already been tabled, its primary importance is likely to be its foreshadowing of issues the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) could adjudicate on this year in the case Big Brother Watch v United Kingdom. In the past, the Strasbourg court has played a decisive role in forcing changes to UK surveillance practices and it has never before been asked to consider the legality of mass surveillance.
This GCHQ presentation from 2012 outlines the agency’s ability to monitor internet use major social media networks in real time, using tools called Squeaky Dolphin, Fire Ant and Anticrisis Girl: see the NBC News article Snowden docs reveal British spies snooped on YouTube and Facebook, 27 January 2014.