Leaked agreement allowed NSA to hold UK information (with or without consent)

If you’re reading this and haven’t heard of the NSA and their controversial spying program PRISM we reported on around five months ago – you can catch-up here. Up to date? Followers thought so as well; but yet more revelations have come to light…

It was previously revealed that surveillance reached further than US jurisdiction; causing the EU commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, Viviane Reding, to call for clarification on what data is being held about European citizens.

Whether this request was met “behind closed doors” is unclear, but thanks to The Guardian – who originally broke the PRISM story – we now know certain agreements were made beyond the public eye to allow the United States to store information about UK citizens.

The claimed purpose of the programme is to perform surveillance on targets suspected of wrongdoing, or who could potentially pose a threat in any respect. Terrorist attacks have, supposedly, been prevented as a result of NSA work.

Yet phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials.

The memo, which was published in partnership between The Guardian and Channel 4 news, reveals the previously off-limits information collected is being placed into a database accessible by other members of the US intelligence and military community.

As part of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing alliance, Britain – alongside Australia, New Zealand, and Canada – means the country should be exempt from surveillance by any of the other participating countries. Information is shared about citizens, from the relevant country’s officials.

Yet a memo, marked “top secret” and dating back to 2005, speaks of a proposed NSA procedure in which citizens of the Five Eyes nations can be spied on even when the partner government has explicitly denied the US permission to do so.

If this wasn’t damning enough, it goes on to say partner countries must not be informed about this surveillance, or even the procedure itself.

The exact excerpt: “"When sharing the planned targeting information with a second party would be contrary to US interests, or when the second party declines a collaboration proposal, the proposed targeting must be presented to the signals intelligence director for approval with justification for the criticality of the proposed collection.”

"If approved, any collection, processing and dissemination of the second party information must be maintained in NoForn channels."

In 2007, rules were changed to allow the NSA to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses swept up. However, a complete change in policy allowed even more details to be collected and stored…

The memo states: “Sigint [signals intelligence] policy … and the UK Liaison Office here at NSAW [NSA Washington] worked together to come up with a new policy that expands the use of incidentally collected unminimized UK data in Sigint analysis.

"The new policy expands the previous memo issued in 2004 that only allowed the unminimizing of incidentally collected UK phone numbers for use in analysis.”

"Now SID analysts can unminimize all incidentally collected UK contact identifiers; including IP and email addresses, fax and cell phone numbers, for use in analysis."

What do you think about these latest NSA revelations regarding UK spying?

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