Who gave away access for US surveillance of all British citizens?

The revelations from Edward Snowden’s documents get ever more breathtaking. It had always previously been thought that under the so-called Five-Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangements (established under the UKUSA Signals Intelligence Agreement in 1946) between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the citizens of each of these countries were off-limits from surveillance by any of the other countries.

Now Snowden has brought to light that in 2007 there was a major change of policy which allowed the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect, analyse and retain the mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses of any British citizens. That immediately raises 5 crucial questions. Who took the decision to allow this? Continue reading

Outrage in the US and EU over total surveillance: why not in the UK?

The different reaction of politicians and public in the US and EU compared with the UK over the mass surveillance revelations is astonishing. Legislation is being drafted at this very moment in the US curtailing the powers of the NSA and the EU is already cracking down hard on US data surveillance.

In the UK, after a persistent and well-documented campaign by the Guardian, the only concession is a minuscule tweak in the work programme of the secret PM-appointed Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) to give an appearance of taking on board public concerns, but in reality offering a sop via a pre-cooked committee which will get nowhere. Continue reading

Regulation of the security services needs to be completely overhauled

spy pigeonThe cascade of revelations from the Edward Snowden files gets ever more damning. After exposure of the US National Security Agency’s Prism system and the matching UK GCHQ’s Tempora system, allowing interlocking and virtually unlimited access to almost all internet activity regardless of so-called privacy protections, we now find that a NSA programme entitled XKeyscore to search with no prior authorisation through enormous agency databases containing emails and ‘nearly everything a typical user does on the internet’. Continue reading

If only we had a government we could trust, we should offer Edward Snowden asylum

Edward SnowdenInstead of pursuing Edward Snowden to the ends of the earth, as the US is doing, we should be lauding him for the huge service he has done us at enormous risk to himself.   He has revealed the nature of our State and the security services which every citizen of the UK needs to know.   What he has revealed is frightening – a degree of mass surveillance which has been going on for years with the full co-operation of Ministers, and we now know that those who should have been our protectors against comprehensive violation of our privacy were actually, if not its instigators, then certainly its co-operators. Continue reading

What is being done to control mass surveillance?

CCTVThe cascade of revelations about secret surveillance, thanks to Edward Snowden, rolls on. Today it’s Dropmire which apparently refers to a bug inserted in an encrupted fax machine used for transmission of commercial data at the EU mission in Washington DC. Once revealed, the Americans explain it as designed to collect data on policy disagreements between member states regarding global issues. It is far more likely that it has been used to gather commercially sensitive information to put the US secretly a step ahead in the global market place.

But whichever it is, it is utterly unacceptable and reprehensible to treat allies (or anyone) in this manner, and German outrage has rightly condemned it as tactics reminiscent of the Cold War. But amid all this flood of revelations of dirty tricks, the central issue still remains: what is being done to stop it since both the US and UK governments, the main perpetrators, have sought to defend it, however feebly and evasively? Continue reading