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UK intelligence agency tapped fibre-optic cables to gather data and shared with NSA

Earlier this month, it was reported that GCHQ has generated 197 intelligence reports from the NSA.

By CBR Staff Writer

UK intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has reportedly tapped fibre-optic cables, which carry vast amounts of Internet and communications data.

The Guardian reported that GCHQ has placed over 200 probes on transatlantic cables and is processing 600 million telephone communications per day as well as up to 39m gigabytes of internet traffic.

According to the Guardian, the GCHQ operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for about 18 months and data obtained from the programme is shared with the US National Security Agency.

Tempora enables GCHQ to tap into and store vast amounts of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for about 30 days.

Reuters reported that NSA spokeswoman Judith Emmel rejected any suggestion the US agency used the UK to do things the NSA cannot do legally.

"Any allegation that NSA relies on its foreign partners to circumvent U.S. law is absolutely false. NSA does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the U.S. government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself," Emmel told Reuters.

Earlier this month, UK foreign secretary William Hague denied claims that GCHQ violated the law over US Internet monitoring programme, Prism.

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The UK intelligence agencies are reported to have made 1,268 requests seeking information on private communications via Microsoft products including Skype in 2012.

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