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

Not simply individual guards should answer for this tragedy – but the leaders of private security companies and the governments that employ them must also be held to account.

After a year in which destruction of the world's largest rainforest rose 29%, the new Alto Maues reserve has 1.6 million acres of mostly untouched forests that are not known to have human presence.

The banks have exclusive access to more than 214,000 federal inmates under exclusive contracts awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department about 15 years ago

Toss-up races like Kansas and South Dakota may be the ones that decide whether or not Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.

Some critics say that the "militarization of the police" is happening right in front of our eyes – but if the Founding Fathers were so worried about a threat of domestic tyranny, how did we get here?

“We wanted to take action to dramatize the betrayal of the American people and show that we will resist and attempt to disrupt or at least expose pro-corruption politicians' ability to raise big money.”

Posted 6 days 23 hours ago

Drug and device makers paid doctors $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period last year – and saw a healthy return on their investment.

Posted 5 days 22 hours ago

Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014, and also has a "foreclosure king" who is now disbarred for his failure to oversee employees accused of carrying out wrongful foreclosures.

Posted 2 days 23 hours ago

As of September 19, 181 institutions and local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

Posted 5 days 22 hours ago

So little of our national wealth is going to feed people or provide jobs and instead, the richest Americans vastly increased their wealth this past year. But what vaulted these individuals to the top?

Posted 6 days 23 hours ago

Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014, and also has a "foreclosure king" who is now disbarred for his failure to oversee employees accused of carrying out wrongful foreclosures.

Some critics say that the "militarization of the police" is happening right in front of our eyes – but if the Founding Fathers were so worried about a threat of domestic tyranny, how did we get here?

On Sunday, hundreds of people milled around a protest site in the gentrifying, densely-populated district Mong Kok, manning aid stations and sitting in small circles on the pavement.

So little of our national wealth is going to feed people or provide jobs and instead, the richest Americans vastly increased their wealth this past year. But what vaulted these individuals to the top?

The city's social justice roots are centuries old – and today Seattle is also home to more than 70 social justice organizations and more than a dozen progressive film festivals.

Sign Up