British intelligence agency GCHQ: Espionage and Monitoring.
The British intelligence agency GCHQ comes back into the centre of the current surveillance scandal about PRISM, Edward Snowden, NSA and XKeyscore – and it seems that the British spying agency (Government Communications Headquarters), based in Cheltenham, monitors and eavesdrops far more backbone connections than it was previously known.
The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is a typical intelligence agency based in Cheltenham. The British intelligence agency (GCHQ) has the duty (in general) to provide signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information to the government of Britain and the British military. The GCHQ is operating under the lead of the Joint Intelligence Committee. However, this British spying agency seems to do the same as the NSA and others – far more espionage than it is already known.
Documents of the former intelligence employee, Edward Snowden, to which the German NDR and the newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” had access, confirm that the British intelligence agency has saved and also analysed substantial parts of the European Internet traffic.
This applies in particular to a huge extent the data of the Internet users in Germany: Here, the British secret service (GCHQ) has the access to two transatlantic cables, and one of the most important connections to East Asia and the intra-European cable PEC.
This access to these transatlantic cables, the connection to East Asia and the access to the intra-European cable PEC permits the British intelligence agency (GCHQ) in many cases to also read along respectively to save and analyse the e-mail communication within Europe and even within Germany.
The German Telekom (Deutsche Telekom / ISP) is one of the operators of the intercepted / monitored cables. The company said that it does not “grant access for foreign services to the data and the telecommunications and Internet traffic in Germany.”
However, one knows after the recent leaks by Edward Snowden that such statements mean finally not a lot. The German Telekom (Deutsche Telekom) has allegedly “no knowledge” about possible programs of the British intelligence agency, but they are in line with each applicable state laws. The German Telekom (Deutsche Telekom) pointed out in its representation that the major undersea cables are operated by company consortiums, which are dependent on the respective partner on site.
In this specific case, the German company had already “checked whether there is a legal basis on which they can demand details from other providers about their collaboration with British security agencies.”
Due to the legal situation in the UK, however, there is a confidentiality obligation on the part of the companies. So these companies are even not allowed to say something about the GCHQ and if the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) / British intelligence agency monitors their cables, even if the companies would like to speak about it.
According to the documents of the “whistleblower” Edward Snowden, the British Telecommunications (BT) and the network operator Level 3 are among these companies. British Telecommunications (BT) has allegedly even provided a custom hardware solution, which makes the monitoring and eavesdrop on the (e-mail) communication and internet traffic easier for the agents of the GCHQ.
On request, the BT Company said that it would operate in line with the laws wherever the company is active. The company further stated that it sticks to the regulatory requirements wherever it is operating. In addition, it does not permit the access to the data of customers by third parties as long as the legal requirements allow this.
In terms of the network operator Level 3, which is said to also be involved in the espionage/monitoring actions, has announced that the company only sticks to the laws of the countries and that they are not able to provide information about a cooperation with intelligence agencies.
Also the British secret service (Government Communications Headquarters / GCHQ) claims to be acting according to the law – what is hardly verifiable, of course.