The UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has said that Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) did not violate British law by using data provided by the US National Security Agency (NSA) under Prism surveillance programme.
Last month, it was reported that GCHQ has tapped fibre-optic cables, which carry vast amounts of Internet and communications data, and shared the information with the NSA.
The committee said it has reviewed the reports that GCHQ produced on the basis of intelligence sought from the US, and said it is satisfied that they conformed with intelligence agency’s statutory duties.
ISC said the allegations that GCHQ circumvented UK law by using the Prism programme were unfounded.
"Further, in each case where GCHQ sought information from the US, a warrant for interception, signed by a Minister, was already in place, in accordance with the legal safeguards contained in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000," ISC said.
The committee however said it will now investigate further the policies underpinning the powers that the UK spies have to intercept data, including the Intelligence Services Act, the Human Rights Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
Prism is reported to have been in operation since 2007 and involves major tech firms such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple and others, though many of them have denied their involvement.