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.

Sign Up

Article Tabs

U.K. housing prices, soaring home prices, soaring rent costs, Eviction Resistance, housing bubble mortgage-backed securities, Great Recession, rising homelessness

Housing prices in London have risen by 50% in the last five years – and when the UK property bubble goes boom, it will be proportionally bigger than the U.S. housing bust at the onset of the financial crisis in 2007.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, corporate trade deals, Investment Court System, German Magistrates Association, Investor State Dispute Settlement, ISDS, Global Justice Now

The German Magistrates Association (DRB) last week dealt a major blow to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as judges said special courts allowing firms to sue countries were unnecessary and "had no legal basis."

Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands, TransCanada, carbon emissions, pipeline projects, NAFTA, corporate trade deals, Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, Investor State Dispute Settlement, ISDS

The Canadian oil giant is suing under the provisions of NAFTA because the U.S. rejected the Keystone pipeline – and demanding an amount that would cover annual community college tuition costs for nearly five million U.S. students.

Fascinating, creative initiatives around the world – from co-operative finance and crowdequity schemes to alternative currencies and reclaiming the public's control over money-creation – are emerging to strengthen the commons.

Housing costs are skyrocketing in Seattle – up 12% for a family home in the last year – and a 2012 study in the Journal of Urban Affairs showed that an increase of $100 in median rents results in a 15% increase in the homeless population.

This week we passed the five-year anniversary of Tahrir Square, but do we even know – or care – what's happening there now, and do we see the parallels with what's going on right here? We speak with an Egyptian activist who sets the record straight.

Posted 4 days 23 hours ago
Chinese economic integration, Chinese financial power, G7 nations, emerging market power, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Asian Development Bank

China and other emerging economies, frustrated by their lack of representation in global financial decision-making, could potentially create their own parallel institutions and, in the long term, construct a parallel or opposing economic system altogether.

Posted 6 days 4 hours ago
Flint water poisoning, Flint water contamination, Flint lead poisoning, water privatization, Rick Snyder, Darnell Earley

Incidences of poisoned water, not isolated to Flint, are snowballing into a colossal emblem of government's prioritization of corporate interests and profit over the basic health and human rights of citizens.

Posted 4 days 3 hours ago

The media, which came to the story so late, can only process so much – but if you live in Flint or the State of Michigan as I do, you know all too well that what the greater public has been told about the water crisis only scratches the surface.

Posted 3 days 9 hours ago

Congressional hearings on the Flint water crisis were convened on Wednesday – but two people who should be in the hot seat weren't there. Next up, Iowa Caucus: Is this what Democracy looks like? And Obama signs the TPP.

Posted 3 days 9 hours ago
money in politics, Citizens United, super PACs, campaign finance laws, corporate campaign financing,

The presidential campaign is now a super PAC-fueled arms race where almost everyone has a money bomb – half the cash raised so far came from those groups, which have no contribution limits.

The complaint filed last week in a U.S. District Court alleges the biotech giant knew its PCBs were polluting the environment and causing harm to people and wildlife.

According to the California Housing Partnership Corporation, a combination of falling incomes and high rents is driving the worst rental-housing crisis in California since World War II.

The federal agency warned of an unfolding toxic water crisis in Flint but was “met with resistance” by Michigan authorities, a fiery congressional hearing into the city’s public health disaster revealed Wednesday.

This week we passed the five-year anniversary of Tahrir Square, but do we even know – or care – what's happening there now, and do we see the parallels with what's going on right here? We speak with an Egyptian activist who sets the record straight.