30 October 2014
Even when I’m sitting in a hammock on holiday, there are things that can still wind me up. One of these things made the headlines yesterday when it was revealed that GCHQ – the British security organisation responsible for gathering signals intelligence – has secret arrangements with the NSA, allowing them to view data without a warrant.
I’m told this came to light when a group of pro-privacy groups, including Privacy International, made a legal challenge against them, based on some of Edward Snowden’s revelations. In documents they provided as part of this case, it was stated that GCHQ can get hold of material collected in bulk by foreign spy agencies. The condition? If it was “not technically feasible” to get hold of it under a warrant!
Personally, I find the wording of this rule extremely vague and perhaps this is the most worrying thing. When will the government understand that, by creating an environment of distrust, they are widening the gulf between themselves and the British public? The only way to narrow this gap is through transparency.
So, what does this means for us Brits? Well, if the data foreign agencies provide to GCHQ include the communications of UK citizens, they will easily be able to access it. It seems to me that the sneaky arrangement is just another way for them to get around barriers that are there to protect our privacy. For me, this just reinforces the need for British data centres and hosting providers based entirely on UK soil.