According to documents obtained by the Guardian, the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, UK Government Communications Headerquarters (GCHQ), has been covertly gathering information from the world’s biggest Internet companies, through the U.S. program, PRISM.
The British eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has had access to PRISM since 2010, three years after the United States began utilizing the program in 2007. GCHQ covertly generated over 197 intelligence supports in the past year, marking a 137-percent increase in the number of reports generated from the year before.
The National Security Agency program, PRISM, has been utilized to obtain Internet communications and raw data, in order to search for patterns in an effort to identify suspicious activity and prevent possible terrorist attacks. Similarly, the monitoring raises questions about whether the GCHQ is circumventing the U.K. legal process required to seek otherwise private online property.
“It takes its obligations under the law very seriously,” GCHQ said in a statement to the Guardian. “Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, 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.”
PRISM was established in 2007 under President George W, Bush, and then renewed under President Barack Obama in 2012, in order to provide in-depth surveillance of live and stored communications between the United States and other countries.
In the United States, only a handful of lawmakers knew of PRISM and were sworn to secrecy. Revelation of the act has caused much uprising and controversy on Capitol Hill.
“I’m angry and I was the one who write the law,” Republican Wisconsin Rep. Jim Senbrenner said to CBS News. “And I think both the justice department and the NSA have abused this by going too far.”