Secret Deal with British Intelligence Gave NSA Data on U.K. Citizens, Overriding Allied Pact

Friday, November 22, 2013
(book by Peter Schweizer)

The United States has been spying on British citizens for at least six years now, despite a multilateral treaty banning such surveillance.


The National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting the phone, Internet and email records of United Kingdom citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing—and all with the blessing of British intelligence.


Using information leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Guardian reported that American officials forged a secret deal in 2007 with UK counterparts that allowed the U.S. to override the terms of the “Five-Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance, which also includes Australia, New Zealand and Canada.


That agreement is supposed to prevent each country from spying on those living in any of the five partner nations.


But the NSA information provided by Snowden revealed the NSA has been storing intelligence on British citizens in U.S. databases.


“These communications were ‘incidentally collected’ by the NSA, meaning the individuals were not the initial targets of surveillance operations and therefore were not suspected of wrongdoing,” James Ball wrote for The Guardian.


The NSA uses “contact chaining” analyses that extend up to “three hops” away from a primary target, meaning that they can examine communications of “a friend of a friend of a friend.” Three hops applied to an ordinary Facebook user pulls in more than 5 million people, according to The Guardian’s own computations.


The British newspaper also obtained a 2005 classified memo showing the NSA proposed spying on citizens of the UK and other Five-Eyes nations, “even where the partner government has explicitly denied the US permission to do so. The memo makes clear that partner countries must not be informed about this surveillance, or even the procedure itself,” Ball wrote.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

US and UK Struck Secret Deal to Allow NSA to 'Unmask' Britons' Personal Data (by James Ball, The Guardian)

United States Can Spy on Britons Despite Pact, N.S.A. Memo Says (by James Glanz, New York Times)

NSA and GCHQ Infiltrated OPEC’s Computer Network (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

NSA Teamed with U.K. and Tech Companies to Override Global Internet Privacy (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Does NSA Avoid U.S. Legal Restrictions by Hiring British Intelligence to Gather Information on Americans? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)



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