I don’t know what I’ve been doing for the past month, but it isn’t very effective. I thought I’d been keeping an eye on the Edward Snowden/PRISM situation, but I only just found out about GCHQ’s eavesdropping programme TEMPORA.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the UK eavesdropping service GCHQ’s ability to access the internet’s fibre-optic cables has made it “an intelligence superpower”.
TEMPORA stores the intercepted data for 3 days, and the meta-data for 30 days. The data includes actual recordings of phone calls, the contents of emails, Facebook activity, and anyone’s browsing history. That’s right: anyone’s data is collected and stored, not just terrorist suspects.
300 analysts from GCHQ and 250 from the NSA are sifting this data, in what must be the biggest fishing operation to date. TEMPORA was first trialled in 2008, and has been fully up and running since 2011. Lawyers for GCHQ said it would be impossible to list the total number of people targeted by Tempora because “this would be an infinite list which we couldn’t manage”.
We only know about this horrific violation of our privacy because NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents about it. Snowden told the Guardian that illegal state-sponsored eavesdropping “is not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight. They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.” The documents’ titles show how huge TEMPORA is: “Mastering the Internet” and “Global Telecoms Exploitation”. GCHQ are intercepting the communications of absolutely anyone, anywhere. The UK may be the leading member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
So, I’ve been indignant that the USA might be violating my privacy with no legal reason or oversight – and now I’ve learnt that my own country is doing the same! Nasty spooks are getting their sticky hands on my personal business, the thought makes me shudder!
Oh, and no “It couldn’t happen here” bollocks. It’s happening now, it’s been happening for years, and it’ll keep happening until we force the nasty pigs to back off!