Latest documents give strongest confirmation yet that UK citizens have been spied upon by the NSA
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been allegedly spying on British citizens as part of a secret deal agreed with UK security officials in 2007, according to the latest documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
According to The Guardian, the phone, internet and email records of people who were not suspected of any wrongdoing have been collected and analysed by the NSA, which had previously been forced to strip all data other than landline numbers from its database.
These details are picked up “incidentally” as part of other investigations, but the alleged agreement, leaked in a memo, states that the NSA is still not able to make a Briton a target of surveillance that looks at the content of their communications unless it obtains a warrant first.
NSA UK surveillance
If true, this would be the strongest evidence to date that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance programmes and would mark the first time that a partner of the ‘five eyes’ intelligence sharing partnership comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand has been a target.
It has been reported that the NSA monitored 60 million Spanish phone calls in one month and 70 million phone calls in France between 10 December 2012 and 8 January 2013, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed concerns that the agency had tapped her BlackBerry.
It was widely believed that ‘five eyes’ partners were protected from such surveillance, but an earlier 2005 memo also leaked by Snowden, details an alleged plan by the NSA to spy on its partners without permission if it was in the interests of both nations. It is not clear however if the agency ever exercised this option.
Snowden is temporarily residing in Russia, after he made headlines across the world in May when he revealed the existence of several highly intrusive electronic surveillance projects run by the US government and its allies, including PRISM, which gives the NSA access to user accounts through secret court orders. He now reportedly has a new job providing technical support for a Russian website.