Read

Search form

Techtivist Report: U.K. Warned - CIA Will Access All Government Data

Techtivist Report: U.K. Warned - CIA Will Access All Government Data
Tue, 2/5/2013 - by Conrad Jaeger

U.S. intelligence agencies will soon be able to trawl through all British government documents stored online including ministerial files, local authority records and public sector data thanks to an unchallenged amendment to a spy law in Washington.

Britain’s ambitious plans to store all government data on the so-called G-Cloud have led to warnings from the European Union that security will be compromised now that U.S. intelligence agencies have the legal right to survey all data held on U.S. owned Cloud services.

At least four U.S. companies are involved in the U.K. government’s G-Cloud project which Whitehall hopes will slash costs and “deliver fundamental changes in the way the public sector procures and operates.”

Eventually, it is hoped the G-Cloud will hold the bulk of State data in addition to that of schools, charities, the BBC and police, even the Bank of England.

While the recent amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have received scant attention in the British Press, there are a few Members of Parliament so concerned that they want Britain to think about ending all intelligence cooperation with the U.S.

“The Americans have got to remember who their allies are and who their enemies are,” Conservative MP David Davis told The Independent, warning of “a whole cascade of constitutional and privacy concerns for ordinary British people”.

Cloud storage is increasingly popular in the U.K. where around 35 per cent of businesses and an unknown number of private users employ some form of remote storage from U.S. based companies like Apple, Amazon and Google. The government wants to see even greater use of Cloud storage across all sectors in what it describes as a robust “public cloud first policy.”

The FISA amendments now give the CIA and NSA the right to access all this data not just in Britain or Europe, but anywhere in the world. U.S. citizens are excused this intrusion by the Fourth Amendment, but everybody else is included.

In the case of Britain, by putting all government data online – including health and criminal records – every facet of peoples’ lives will be open to scrutiny by intelligence analysts across the Atlantic.

Many warn that this will also lead to activists, journalists, politicians, Muslims and others being specifically targeted without the need to justify national security.

“In other words, it is lawful in the U.S. to conduct purely political surveillance on foreigners’ data accessible in U.S. Clouds,” warns the report for the European Parliament, Fighting Cyber Crime and Protecting Privacy in the Cloud by the Centre for the Study of Conflicts, Liberty and Security.

While most of the attention has been focused on Cloud storage and the effect FISA will have on Europe, the actual wording of the amendment speaks of “remote computing services” which could literally mean anything stored on a computer other than your own.

As it is, every financial transaction passes through U.S. intelligence channels. With the new extension, no stone need remain unturned. Every time you comment on a book, join a club, or do absolutely anything that passes through a computer owned by a U.S. company, you are open to scrutiny.

The Cloud, however, comes with other concerns. There is debate as to who legally owns what if it is stored or edited in the Cloud, and you can’t even bequest your online music collection to a loved one when you die.

NSA aside, hackers can easier access data en-route to the Cloud than they can on a local area network, and the Cloud administrators might one day be compromised. The companies themselves may go bust or be taken over. They might suffer some catastrophic event or decide to amended their terms and conditions.

The European Union is being urged to add a warning to all U.S. based Cloud services, with clear wording that anything stored in the Cloud will be under direct scrutiny by Federal authorities. The report also wants to see E.U. citizens given the same rights as Americans in U.S. courts.

“A lot of people wouldn’t realize where data is stored, and hence wouldn’t expect to be subject to U.S. law,” cautions another Member of Britain’s Parliament, Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrats.

He wants to know if the government has received any guarantee from Washington that sensitive data will not be scrutinized as foreign intelligence fodder.

“If the U.S. will not give a clear assurance about government data,” he says. “Then we will have to stop using the Cloud, as we cannot allow that to happen.”

Read more by Conrad Jaeger at techtivist.com and follow him at @conradjaeger.

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Standing Rock Sioux protests, Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality, police violence, fossil fuel protests, Big Oil, Diggers, attack dogs

Some of the faces and voices from Standing Rock, in their own words.

U.K. surveillance legislation, Investigatory Powers Bill, Snoopers Charter, U.K. terrorism surveillance, U.K. surveillance programs, internet surveillance, cell phone surveillance, metadata

The Investigatory Powers Bill – or “Snoopers Charter” – is now enshrined in U.K. law, forcing internet and mobile phone companies to keep a record of all citizens’ browsing and phone use, even if they aren't suspected of terrorism.

Big Oil, Big Finance, economic transformation, climate collapse, economic alternatives, fossil fuel free, fossil fuel divestment, copyright laws, infrastructure investment, worker-owned cooperatives, jail the bankers, too big to fail

Moving society away from carbon dependence is not just about becoming good consumers, but engaged citizens.

money in politics, Don McGahn, campaign finance laws, FEC, campaign finance regulation, Citizens United, money as speech

Don McGahn, soon to be Donald Trump’s White House counsel, bears as much responsibility as any single person for turning America’s campaign finance system into something akin to a gigantic, clogged septic tank.

This week, the ice is melting, sea levels are rising and science denying psychopaths are steering the canoe.

Somali-Americans, Somali businesses, Abdul Razak Artan, Ohio State attacks, Somali activism

The Somali-American community was bashed last week after Abdul Razak Artan, a member of Ohio's large and growing Somali community, took part in a car-ramming attack and massive stabbing at the school that left 13 injured.

Posted 5 days 24 min ago
Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock, Alex Garland, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests

Here are some of the faces from Standing Rock, in their own words.

Posted 5 days 9 min ago

This week, the ice is melting, sea levels are rising and science denying psychopaths are steering the canoe.

Posted 3 days 22 hours ago
Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests, DAPL

"We thank the tribal youth who initiated this movement. We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause. We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us."

Posted 5 days 18 hours ago
Big Oil, Big Finance, economic transformation, climate collapse, economic alternatives, fossil fuel free, fossil fuel divestment, copyright laws, infrastructure investment, worker-owned cooperatives, jail the bankers, too big to fail

Moving society away from carbon dependence is not just about becoming good consumers, but engaged citizens.

Posted 2 days 17 hours ago
U.K. surveillance legislation, Investigatory Powers Bill, Snoopers Charter, U.K. terrorism surveillance, U.K. surveillance programs, internet surveillance, cell phone surveillance, metadata

The Investigatory Powers Bill – or “Snoopers Charter” – is now enshrined in U.K. law, forcing internet and mobile phone companies to keep a record of all citizens’ browsing and phone use, even if they aren't suspected of terrorism.

Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests, DAPL

"We thank the tribal youth who initiated this movement. We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause. We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us."

Big Oil, Big Finance, economic transformation, climate collapse, economic alternatives, fossil fuel free, fossil fuel divestment, copyright laws, infrastructure investment, worker-owned cooperatives, jail the bankers, too big to fail

Moving society away from carbon dependence is not just about becoming good consumers, but engaged citizens.

Standing Rock Sioux protests, Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality, police violence, fossil fuel protests, Big Oil, Diggers, attack dogs

Some of the faces and voices from Standing Rock, in their own words.

Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock, Alex Garland, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests

Here are some of the faces from Standing Rock, in their own words.