Data covertly collected by the US National Security Agency (NSA) from American telecom and Internet firms has been shared with its British counterpart, media reports revealed.
Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has been given information gathered in the US-run PRISM system, which grants the American spy agency a direct line to data stored on the servers of Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and five other tech giants.
Documents obtained by the Guardian revealed that the GCHQ has had access to PRISM since at least June 2010, having generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year. Access to the information has allowed the British electronic eavesdropping and security agency to bypass the formal legal process required to obtain such information from a non-UK-based company.
Throughout PRISM’s seven-year existence, operatives at the NSA and FBI have collected email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype) chats, file transfers and social networking details, with the ostensible purpose of thwarting terror attacks.