Welcome to the Police State
British spies trawl through American telephone
and email records without a search warrant.
(Daily Mail) - British spies today admitted they can access mobile phone and email records without a warrant - if they are handed over by American or other foreign intelligence agencies.
The Government has until now insisted its GCHQ eavesdropping centre does not use information gathered in the States to bypass restrictions on the what information can be gathered in Britain.
But in court documents released today, GCHQ admitted it scoops up information of 'unanalysed intercepted communications content' from its US intelligence partner without a warrant.
Campaign group Privacy International said the revelation exposed 'a huge gap in protection for British people'.
A spokesman for the organisation, which is suing the UK spy agency alongside Liberty and Amnesty International, said: 'The British public had been consistently persuaded by government over the last year that GCHQ are not using the NSA as a backdoor to sidestep protection in the law.'
It means UK spies can help themselves to data collected by the US National Security Agency without any oversight. GCHQ - which has refused to comment - has not revealed whose phone and email records it has trawled through.
The agreement between the NSA and GCHQ allows the UK to store anything discovered in the data for up to two years.
But this deadline can be extended unilaterally by 'senior UK officials' if they believe it to be necessary for national security purposes.
GCHQ was forced to draw back the veil on some of their top secret policies during a legal challenge to their practices following whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA last year.
Amongst the legal challengers were Amnesty International and the British civil rights advocates, Liberty.
'We now know that data from any call, internet search, or website you visited over the past two years could be stored in GCHQ's database and analysed at will, all without a warrant to collect it in the first place,' said Privacy International deputy director Eric King to the Guardian.
'It is outrageous that the government thinks mass surveillance, justified by secret 'arrangements' that allow for vast and unrestrained receipt and analysis of foreign intelligence material is lawful.'
Read more: Daily Mail.
Read more: Daily Mail.