GCHQ, European spy agencies conduct mass surveillance via telecoms

The latest revelation to come out of the famous Snowden papers is that England and mainland Europe all spy on citizens in the same way the NSA does. According to yet another new analysis of the papers–this time by England's The Guardian–spy agencies in multiple nations collaborate with privately run telecommunications companies to gather data on private citizens on a mass scale.

The exact nature of the European flavor of mass spying is not entirely obvious, but it's clear all of the agencies mentioned in the analysis covertly tap fiber optic cables to conduct surveillance. They then communicate with one another across borders so that if one nation has access to certain telecommunications assets, it can grant other nations some access to those assets in trade for reciprocal favors. So goes the global intelligence community.

Implicated spy agencies cited in the analysis are England's GCHQ, Germany's BND, France's DGSE, Spain's CNI, Sweden's FRA, and the Netherlands' GISS. As we reported last week, England's GCHQ is now already known to be actively assisting the US's NSA in the MUSCULAR project, which taps cables connecting the data centers of Google and Yahoo all around the world. Now the GCHQ has been cited in the Snowden papers as having "praised France's DGSE agency and in particular its close ties with an unnamed telecommunications company," according to Reuters.

And another sweet little hors d'oeuvre served up by the GHCQ, this one regarding France's spy agency: "We have made contact with the DGSE's main industry partner, who has some innovative approaches to some Internet challenges, raising the potential for GCHQ to make use of this company in the protocol development arena." The industry partner is unnamed, but it's obviously someone huge or the GHCQ wouldn't bother with it.

All of the agencies named in the analysis are also said to be working on influencing legislation to allow them to more freely tap the Internet to spy on almost literally everyone on the Internet. As for existing legislation, it was also revealed that the various agencies trade hot tips around the water cooler as to how to go about bending or circumventing the law for maximum data pay dirt.

SOURCE: The Guardian