REEDOM ON THE
through secret information sharing agreements with major U.S. internet companies. At the same
time, the arrangement allowed the GCHQ to pass on information to the NSA regarding U.S.
citizens, thereby bypassing American restrictions on domestic surveillance. Indeed, according to
leaked internal documents, the GCHQ facility in Cheltenham reportedly “produces larger amounts
of metadata collection than the NSA.”
In another internal document, the GCHQ praised its
intelligence collecting and information sharing efforts, stating that the NSA was “delighted by our
unique contributions against the [unsuccessful] Times Square and Detroit bombers.”
also revealed that the U.S. government has provided at least £100 million ($155 million) in funding
to the GCHQ over the past few years, leading some observers to conclude that the U.S.
government was essentially paying to use information obtained by the UK government.
advocates, such as Privacy International, have criticized the programs as “blanket surveillance,”
lacking judicial oversight and disproportionately affecting the rights guaranteed in Article 8 of the
European Convention of Human Rights.
In 2009, regulations to implement the EU Data Retention Directive were adopted.
directive, providers must retain communications data on all users for 12 months, including mobile
phone location and e-mail logs, but excluding the content of the communications. ISPs can also
continue to “voluntarily” store web-access logs and government agencies may access this
information through the procedures in RIPA.
In May 2012, the government announced the
Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP), a proposal to require ICT service
providers to retain data on phone calls, e-mails, text messages, and communications on social-
networking sites in order to combat terrorism and organized crime.
This was incorporated into a
draft Communications Data Bill, which if passed would also expand the real-time surveillance
capabilities of the security services and require ISPs to monitor users.
Progress on the bill has
stalled, however, and on April 25, 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that the
bill was unlikely to be implemented during the current government.
According to the Guardian,
British telecommunications giants BT and Vodafone Cable, as well as several other international
companies, have been collaborating with the GCHQ under secret agreements to tap into
Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hopkins, Nick Davies, and James Ball, “Mastering the internet: how GCHQ set out to spy
on the world wide web, ” The Guardian, June 21, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq‐mastering‐the‐
Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger, Luke Harding, “GCHQ: inside the top secret world of Britain’s biggest spy agency,” The Guardian,
August 1, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/aug/01/gchq‐spy‐agency‐nsa‐edward‐snowden#part‐six.
Nick Hopkins and Luke Harding, “GCHQ accused of selling its services after revelations of funding by NSA,” The Guardian,
August 2, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/uk‐news/2013/aug/02/gchq‐accused‐selling‐services‐nsa.
Nick Hopkins, “NSA and GCHQ spy programmes face legal challenge,” The Guardian, July 8, 2013,
The Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009 No. 859), April 2, 2009,
See, The Retention of Communications Data (Code of Practice) Order 2003,
David Barrett, “Phone and email records to be stored in new spy plan,” The Telegraph, February 18, 2012,
See, Draft Communications Data Bill, http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees‐a‐z/joint‐select/draft‐
Kelly Fiveash, “Nick Clegg: Snooper’s Charter ‘isn’t going to happen,’” The Register, April 25, 2013, http://bit.ly/10eLMYz.