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

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.

Article Tabs

Joseph Stiglitz, Bernie Sanders, new populism, democratic populism, wealth inequality, income inequality, Next System Project

It's time to begin the careful work of knitting together broad, pluralistic conceptions of what a transformed system might look like.

Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, corporate trade deals, whistleblowers, fast track, Trade Promotion Authority

Letter signed by more than 250 firms demands greater transparency and says "dangerously vague" language would criminalize whistleblowers.

rate rigging, banking fines

Five giant banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, were fined roughly $5.7 billion, and four of them pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges over manipulation of foreign exchange rates.

worker-owned cooperatives, worker-owned businesses

New York City is home to the country’s largest worker-owned co-op, Co-operative Home Care Associates, which employs some 2,300 workers, mainly immigrant and minority women in the South Bronx.

The $5.3 trillion subsidy estimate for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, fast track authority, Trade Promotion Authority, Bernie Sanders, Investor-State Dispute Settlements, ISDS

Bernie's message of taking on the billionaire class, making four-year college free and breaking up the big banks is resonating with everyday folks – and if he breaks with the Democrats to run as an Independent, his support will surge.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago
PossibL, solutions conference, Yes! Magazine

A gathering of people from around the world at the first ever event known as PossibL, happening later this month in San Francisco, seeks to shed light less on the crises we face and more on the solutions to those crises.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago

If carried out as expected, this year's tax foreclosures in Detroit will comprise the largest number of foreclosures in any municipality in history – and they're not even being carried out by big heartless banks, but rather by local government.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago
fracking ban, Denton fracking, anti-fracking legislation, Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that prohibits cities and towns from banning an oil drilling practice known as hydraulic fracking, giving the state sole authority over oil and gas regulation.

Posted 2 days 21 hours ago

Britain’s election shows it's no longer a united kingdom, that Scottish independence is increasingly likely – and that the new Conservative government will only further fracture an already deeply unequal society.

Posted 3 days 21 hours ago

People from sHellNo.org, Greenpeace and other organizations as well as media outlets from around the U.S. showed up to support and document the huge flotilla event.

The $5.3 trillion subsidy estimate for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

Britain’s election shows it's no longer a united kingdom, that Scottish independence is increasingly likely – and that the new Conservative government will only further fracture an already deeply unequal society.

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world – with 2.2 million people behind bars, and millions more on probation or parole, one in 35 American adults are caught up in the prison system.

This week Eleanor Goldfield visits activist artists in New York City

Sign Up