The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the UK is reportedly accessing information obtained by PRISM, the covert initiative created by the National Security Agency and FBI to monitor communications in the United States.
The Guardian claims to have obtained documents which show that GCHQ has been able to leverage the system since June 2010. The evidence also suggests that the British intelligence agency created 197 reports using the data last year.
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GCHQ is also cited in the report, explaining that it takes its legal obligations “very seriously”.
The $20 million program code-named PRISM was uncovered by two reports published by the Guardian and the Washington Post yesterday. Both claim that the National Security Agency has direct access to information held by a number of high-profile technology companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.
It has since been revealed that the initiative was born out of the Protect America Act, which was introduced in 2007.
The Guardian says GCHQ’s involvement with PRISM is set out in a number of documents that were prepared for analysts working at the National Security Agency.
It reveals that “special programmes” exist for GCHQ to process the information obtained through PRISM, suggesting that a selection, or filtered data set is being passed to Britain.
The full statement from GCHQ – or what has been published by the Guardian at least, is as follows:
“…takes its obligations under the law very seriously. Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the intelligence and security committee”.
Intelligence reports created by GCHQ are normally passed to MI5 and MI6, the highest and most prolific security services in the United Kingdom.
Almost all of the technology companies believed to be linked with PRISM have denied actively participating in the program.
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