back to article Snowden leaks latest: BT, Vodafone, Verizon jack GCHQ into undersea fiber

UK carriers BT and Vodafone are among top telcos today accused of supplying surveillance data to Blighty's eavesdropping nerve center, GCHQ. The Guardian cited documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden in reporting that the operators, along with Verizon Business and a number of smaller providers, provided spooks with …

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  1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Unhappy

    To be fair...

    what choice do they have?

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: To be fair...

      Hope you are not talking about GCHQ. The Brits on here love ripping on evil America and blaming our stupid government (yes its pretty obvious to the whole world its broken) for everything but is there a bigger enabler to the US than the UK government? Spy on our people and we'll spy on yours, wink wink.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To be fair...

        It was the Labour government being a poodle that rolled over and let the US set the agenda. Blair was a technophobe so wasn't exactly clued up on what he was allowing.

        1. Oh Homer
          Mushroom

          Re: "Blair was a technophobe"

          He's also a warmonger, so even if he's clueless about technology, he still knew what he was getting into, and probably did so eagerly.

        2. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: To be fair...

          "It was the Labour government being a poodle that rolled over and let the US set the agenda."

          Don't be a fool. The surveillance goes back a lot longer than Blair. ECHELON was first outed in 1988.

          And you'll find the other lot are just as culpable - and very possibly even more enthusiastic.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: To be fair...

        Of course not! I was talking about the companies made to comply.

        I don't know why you have such a chip on your shoulder though.

        I haven't seen any posts by us Brits defending GCHQ - in fact the general consensus seems to criticise the UK just as much as America - it's just that most of the stories that have come out focus on Americas shinanagens - and if you have a problem with that, you can blame Snowdon, your fellow countryman .

        I made a long reply last time you made this point, but my browser died just before I posted it.

        However, I did respond more fully in a reply to a different comment by 'Destroy all monsters' : http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/2000981

        See also this post: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/2003452

        Go ahead - Criticise GCHQ and the shitty UK government - you may be surprised to see that most of us agree with you - it just tends to be some Americans that are so insecure as to see any critisism of American policy as some sort of personal attack on them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To be fair...

      the significance here is that the partners are named, which GCHQ would not be happy about. The telcos do have to follow any applicable UK laws, but according to Prof Susan Landau (in her book "Surveillance or Security?: The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies") the telcos that she has studied have always over collected and over-assisted beyond the law and even/always given data in situations not covered by the law.

      if you look at this (open) UK GOV website (actually hosted in US - you couldn't make this up!)

      https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/technical-advisory-board/about/membership

      you'll see that its only the names of the technical intercepting agencies who are not named,

      people like UK GCHQ, UK ICG, UK... etc

      1. Neil Greatorex

        Re: To be fair...

        Quick lookup shows it's not a UK GOV website:

        canonical name www-gov-uk.map.fastly.net.

        aliases www.gov.uk

        addresses 199.27.74.144

        Domain Whois record

        Queried whois.ja.net with "www.gov.uk"...

        No such domain www.gov.uk

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: To be fair...

          "Quick lookup shows it's not a UK GOV website:

          canonical name www-gov-uk.map.fastly.net.

          aliases www.gov.uk

          addresses 199.27.74.144

          Domain Whois record

          Queried whois.ja.net with "www.gov.uk"...

          No such domain www.gov.uk"

          I assume you mean that it's not hosted on JANET, but with a USA hosting company in one of their London locations.

          Unusual, I agree, but that doesn't make it "not a UK GOV website"!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: To be fair...

            And why, pray tell, should it be hosted by JANET?

            Last time I checked, gov.uk is not a research or educational organisation/site, so it's not something JANET would host.

            And Gov.uk *is* a UK government website, managed by the Cabinet Office (through the Government Digital Service).

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: To be fair...

        " the significance here is that the partners are named, which GCHQ would not be happy about. The telcos dohave to follow any applicable UK laws, but according to Prof Susan Landau (in her book "Surveillance or Security?: The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies") the telcos that she has studied have always over collected and over-assisted beyond the law and even/always given data in situations not covered by the law."

        In that case, they should be taken to task. It's a shame this article didn't focus on that point.

        "if you look at this (open) UK GOV website (actually hosted in US - you couldn't make this up!)"

        But you could! :-)

        It's actually hosted in London!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GCHQ helps NSA bypass the law

    For years NSA has provided raw data to the UK. Once GCHQ has searched it, any results can legally be returned to the US as "foreign-sourced" intelligence. So if the guys in Cheltenham get all your emails and net browsing, and tell NSA, then the latter have complied with the letter of the law. The program is called Echelon.

    The Aussies and the Canucks get the same privilege.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GCHQ helps NSA bypass the law

    For years NSA has provided raw data to the UK. Once GCHQ has searched it, any results can legally be returned to the US as "foreign-sourced" intelligence. So if the guys in Cheltenham get all your emails and net browsing, and tell NSA, then the latter have complied with the letter of the law. The program is called Echelon and you can Google it!

    The Aussies and the Canucks get the same privilege.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A convenient scheme which includes several other countries. You collect the data and pass it to us, we analyse it and tell you what we think you should get or enough to keep you cooperating. Both sides have plausible deniability if no one looks too closely.

    One side, we do not collect your data and the other side we do not analyse your data. ( But together we do both on everything we can get our hands on.) No oversight by anyone with the slightest sign of acting in the public interest.

    Despite all the claims about stopping terrorists they have remarkably few successes to show as justification, or did the terrorists just disappear in another extra judicial incident.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Absolute Cluetard

      ".....Despite all the claims about stopping terrorists they have remarkably few successes to show as justification....." Tell you what, why don't you give up washing your hands after you take a crap, it's not like everyone has cholera so how can we PROVE hygiene helps stop disease? Clueless moron.

      1. Schultz
        Thumb Down

        Re: Absolute Cluetard

        The NSA and Co. activities are more like wrapping yourself in saran foil in the attempt to isolate yourself from every potential germ out there. The washing hands analogy would be more akin to having a police with reasonable - and limited - powers.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Schultz Re: Absolute Cluetard

          " The NSA and Co. activities are more like wrapping yourself in saran foil in the attempt to isolate yourself from every potential germ out there....." Complete male bovine manure. You sheeple like to pretend the NSA is some great bogeyman, some hidden "police state" which you all have paranoid wet dreams about, when the reality is the intrusion is not just minimal, it is NON-EXISTANT as your emails and whining websites are not being followed, they exclude you morons probably with the first pass of the analysis. You WANT to baaaah-lieve your email is being read and your phone calls listened to because it really would upset you to realise you are of ZERO INTEREST to anyone.

          "......the washing hands analogy would be more akin to having a police with reasonable - and limited - powers." The powers of the NSA and GCHQ are already limited - they DO NOT READ EVERYTHING, so stop pretending they do just to satisfy your paranoid, victim-complex wet dreams.

          1. Pseudonymous Coward

            Re: Schultz Absolute Cluetard

            > "......the washing hands analogy would be more akin to having a police with reasonable - and limited - powers." The powers of the NSA and GCHQ are already limited - they DO NOT READ EVERYTHING, so stop pretending they do just to satisfy your paranoid, victim-complex wet dreams.

            They most likely do not read everything. It's just that when an NSA employee wants to find out what their ex-partner is up to or their current love interest, they'll happily have a look. Utilise your favourite search engine on the term LOVEINT.

            And of course they cannot even protect their own data from Edward Snowden which they presumably cared about not having shared, how safe is mine with them?

            That's just a couple of the problems with dragnet style surveillance.

            If they find I'm hanging out with Abu Hamza a lot and a judge agrees that warrants a closer look into my communications, so be it. If they then find I'm actually just an author researching for a book on a related subject and the judge refuses to extend the warrant, all the better.

            Other than that, my data should be mine to share as I see fit.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Schultz Absolute Cluetard

            @MattBryant. Oh please, call it like it is. The only security that the NSA and friends are interested in is the security of their jobs and pensions. Keep the fear level raised, keep the appropriations coming in. The big IT suppliers get fat equipment orders, and the telcos are hardly disinterested parties. It is just a great big pork barrel.

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Cliff

      >>Despite all the claims about stopping terrorists they have remarkably few successes to show as justification<<

      Espionage and surveillance networks are going to take years to build and start returning quality leads. When there's a bit of edge activity you might want to quietly nobble it as opposed to blowing a huge operation against some core people for the same of placating the newspapers.

      Consider the WW2 Bletchley work, kept entirely secret for decades but was oft-cited as knocking 2 years off the war. If the first intelligence it had gathered meant stopping one bombing raid but blowing that we could intercept and understand the German military communications, they'd have changed tactics and we may have had a very different outcome.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get used to it

    This has been going on for many years. You can assume all fibre links leaving the UK are monitored. They run all sub-sea cables through Glimmerglass systems which tap the optical signals, combine them and send them on to 'nam. In the end there are very few companies that actually own these cable systems, so it's the logical place to do it.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Get used to it

      >This has been going on for many years

      I think any one in IT and comm's who visited the Cable & Wireless Porthcurno museum could have walked away without knowing that undersea cables were routinely monitored...

      The only difference is that the press now feel able to talk about it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Faster access

    The spooks have faster access to my data than I do.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    IT Angle

    So it looks like Dettica have been debugging their designs for a while now.

    Since it's probable them (BAe subsidairy) that got the contract to supply the boxes.

    It now looks like the plan for the Snoopers Charter was to get a discount by bulk buying

  8. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    How thorough will this be...

    ....British MPs have taken steps to probe their spies' mass collection of data from private sources....

    ...when GCHQ has a complete list of ALL the MPs private phone calls, financial dealings and web page viewings?

    If any MP gets a bit too close to the truth, someone will have a word with him about that indiscreet e-mail he sent a couple of years ago, and how difficult his life might become if the press got to hear about it...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SCUM, the lot of them.

    That is all.

  10. dephormation.org.uk
    Big Brother

    Undersea cables?

    Vodafone: use Bluecoat to covertly tap UK telecoms and divert to California USA for analysis & replay attacks.

    BT: used Phorm to covertly intercept, copy, and analyse the content of UK telecoms.

  11. Salts

    Don't know why GCHQ ...

    Goes to all this trouble, they could save the tax payer millions by just calling Experian.

  12. Slawek

    Snowden is not whistleblower - he did not reveal any crime committed by his company. Hi is just an idiot traitor.

    1. Barry Mahon

      Snowden's "company" is the gov., they make up the laws, so they decide what is a crime. The NSA's ass is well covered.

  13. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    I doubt many would agree with you definitions of either traitor or whistleblower but as long as you are happy in your own little world work away.

  14. smartypants

    Not suprised and I don't care

    ...but it has nothing to do with the idea of "if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide"

    I live in a corner of the world where, by some lucky coincidence, I won't be tortured or murdered for what I am and how I live my life, and I tend to avoid the news simply because I don't want to ruin the day with stories of untold misery from other places on this benighted planet.

    I'm free to do what I want, I have food in my belly, live in a brilliant city, am lucky enough to have a job that challenges me and I have the protection of quite reasonable laws.

    Really, I want to get whipped up into a frothing hysteria at the possibility that someone checked out my email, but frankly, in another place today or another age here in the UK, had someone read my emails I'd be in prison now.

    If they're snooping on my life, I'm happy to report that it's boring enough that I'm not aware of it, and that says more about the luck I have in living in the here and now than anything else I could care to imagine.

    The state always has an interest in what people are saying. For so much of the world today and in human history, this has led to innocent people being persecuted.

    When that starts happening here, I'll start paying attention. Wake me up then.

    Let the downvoting commence!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not suprised and I don't care

      The police have admitted that Miranda, Greenwald's partner, was stopped under terrorism powers because of the belief that he was promoting a "political or ideological cause". That cause being - in a democracy, the government should be held accountable to the voters. So there you have it, support real democracy and you are a terrorist.

      Keep on being a Good Briton.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Not suprised and I don't care

      So your don't go by "if you've done nothing wrong..."

      You prefer "First they came ..."

  15. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Didn't we know this already? I remember reading about the BT cables into Menwith Hill about ten years ago.

    1. Barry Mahon

      Yes we did, Duncan Cambell then writing for the Specator, I think, exposed the whole GCHQ/Menwith/satellite scanning, stuff years ago and still does, Google him... it will probably mean you are on a black list somewhere, like our friend the "don't care" poster, you're innocent, aren't you?

      Of course Menwith was part of a programme to listen in the the IRA, that was justified, wasn't it? Probably served to catch the Birmingham 4.

  16. h3

    What I want to know is why the BBC thinks it is any different what we are getting here than what they complained about when they went into East Germany for the first time. (When it comes to surveillance especially).

    I thought they were quite reasonable for a while. However now I just watch Al Jazzera. (Because if it is biased it is more likely to be biased against my natural viewpoint).

  17. Mike Bell
    Big Brother

    Welcome to the virtual Panopticon

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon

  18. Barry Mahon

    Presumably BT et al are paid to provide the links, its business. The law that governs them makes it obligatory for them to do what they are told in the name of state security. At the time of the famous Falklands BT, the then monopoly, supplied a complete private exchange service to the military within 72 hours. Nothing has changed.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    time to leave IT

    If we all left IT and if the ones that were eager to replace thought again - thus having no IT staff to manage the systems will = a crash sooner or later and having no IT = having no need to monitor it.

    That is really the only way of killing this weed that will outstand any other form of weedkiller as outlined by somone above if politicians tried to get in their way they would only be put in their place so I can not see any other solution than mass career change

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: time to leave IT

      "If we all left IT and if the ones that were eager to replace thought again - thus having no IT staff to manage the systems will = a crash sooner or later and having no IT = having no need to monitor it."

      You haven't met many IT people working in BT then? If you had you'd realise that your theory is woefully inadequate when faced with the reality of 'lifers'.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *YAWN*

    Anyone who has delved into the history of HMG secret services or bothered to read the rather voluminous book about the GCHQ would've known this already and wouldn't be carrying on as if they'd been asked to relinquish their first-born.

    Cable & Wireless (who sold off their FO estate to Vodafone) had a cosy relationship with HMG for decades! Ditto the General Post Office (oh, sorry, BT).

    Nothing new to see here, move along now, move along. :-)

    * May the downvoting begin. :-)

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