The Guardian has another good piece on the sister agency of the NSA. The GCHQ is the approximate equivalent of the NSA for the UK. It is housed in a someone distinctive looking building known as “the donut”.
My working theory on how this all is working goes something like this. Snowden’s documents have hinted to a partnership with 5-7 other Countries. It is somewhat well known that since World War 2 the US and UK have had a cozy relationship.
ECHELON is a name used in global media and in popular culture to describe a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network operated on behalf of the five signatory states to the UKUSA Security Agreement (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS and Five Eyes). It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.
ECHELON, according to information in the European Parliament document, “On the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)” was created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s.
The system has been reported in a number of public sources. Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001, and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States. The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic) and microwave links.
CSEC • GCHQ
DSD • GCSB
DGSE • BND
Most of the Countries mentioned above have laws about surveillance on their own citizens. My theory is.. For example. The US monitors the UK’s citizens and in return the UK monitors the US’s citizens. This allows them to in some respects follow the letter of the law. I am 99.99% sure the GCHQ has at its disposal the same tools the NSA has to place a dragnet over the entire electronic world.
The Terrorist Surveillance Program was an electronic surveillance program implemented by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. It was part of the President’s Surveillance Program, which was in turn conducted under the overall umbrella of the War on Terrorism. The NSA, a signals intelligence agency, implemented the program to intercept al Qaeda communications overseas where at least one party is not a U.S. person. In 2005 The New York Times disclosed that technical glitches resulted in some of the intercepts including communications were “purely domestic” in nature, igniting the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy. Later works, such as James Bamford’s The Shadow Factory, describe how the nature of the domestic surveillance was much, much more widespread than initially disclosed. In a 2011 New Yorker article, former NSA employee Bill Binney said that his colleagues told him that the NSA had begun storing billing and phone records from “everyone in the country.”
From the article in the Guardian
When it was built in 2002 the “doughnut” was the biggest construction project in Europe. It is now home to a parallel world – one that mirrors the society around it while being set apart by high walls of secrecy and the vastly superior technology concealed within.
Today this intensely private organisation is under a spotlight it has never had to face before, as its methods and practices come under unprecedented scrutiny, thanks to the release of files that would otherwise have been locked away for another 30 years.
Snowden wanted to reveal the extent of the surveillance activities being undertaken by GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the stories published by the Guardian have certainly done that.
Before the 30-year-old analyst turned whistleblower, only a few people outside GCHQ had heard of “Tempora”, the programme that gives the agency access to the fibre-optic cables that carry the world’s phone calls and web traffic; only they knew it had developed an ingenious way of storing this material for up to 30 days.
Only those in the intelligence community had heard of “Prism”, another initiative that has given the NSA – and GCHQ too – access to millions of emails and live chat conversations held by the world’s major internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple.
Teams of analysts at GCHQ now have the authority and the technical capacity to tap directly into the nervous system of the 21st century and peer into the lives of others. Dig deeper into the drily worded, acronym-filled files, and there are other insights about the challenges faced by GCHQ, and its own anxieties about meeting them.
Very interesting indeed… The Five eyes allows for Countries to be able to deny that they are spying on its own citizens and at the same time in effect doing just that.
Details on UKUSA agreement in a PDF
Or you can look here in National archives.
Further proof of my theory…
Verizon is handing over U.S. data to a foreign spy agency
Three of the world’s largest telecommunication companies, Verizon, Vodafone and BT, are providing the U.K.’s intelligence agency with their customers’ phone, email and Facebook data, the Guardian reported.
According to the British paper, top secret documents provided by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden and originally published in the German paper Süddeutsche, have implicated the three major telecom firms—along with four other companies—in granting the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) unlimited access to their undersea cables.
As revealed by Snowden earlier this week, the NSA has paid the GCHQ over $150 million in the past three years for access to British intelligence, meaning that 250 NSA agents can view the GCHQ’s data.
Last year, the GCHQ apparently tapped more than 200 fibreoptic cables carrying both Internet and phone data. The agency stores metadata–information about when and where messages are sent–for up to 30 days. The content of communications are only stored for three days.
I am posting this because it makes me laugh even though it most likely should not. My Mother breed Siamese cats and I have a ton of respect for the breed. They are incredibly smart and agile. I have never seen a cat Mis-Jump before.