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GCHQ Pleads Innocence In UK Web & Phone Monitoring Plans

GCHQ, the UK Government’s secret electronics surveillance body, has finally denied that it was forging ahead with an ambitious plans to monitor web activity and telephone call details of users.

In a public statement, the electronics eavesdropping agency said that a proposed £1 billion “snooping” project at its high-tech complex at Cheltenham was rather tailored to help the agency to align with rapidly changing trends in internet technology.

The agency responded after the newspaper The Sunday Times reported that the proposed Mastering the Internet (MTI) programme would allow GCHQ to “spy at will” on web activities, including emails, social networking sessions, as well as telephone calls made over the web.

The reports suggest that the programme includes secret installation of several “black box” probes across the cyber infrastructure that would aid the Government to monitor and store the entire communications data of UK users.

It further went on to say that the government was continuing the ambitious project in spite of an assurance by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith last week, saying that the Government had called off plans to create a centralised database to record all the communications data of UK users.

Responding to the reports, the agency informed that the project was tailored to keep pace with changing internet technology. Along the same, it said in a statement, “We must reinvest continuously to keep up with the methods that are used by those who threaten the UK and its interests”.

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Our Comments

It is very unlikely that the GHCQ was ever going to confirm that it is indeed monitoring internet traffic in the UK. There are European laws that force Internet service providers and mobile phone to keep logs of all communications occurring within their systems.

Related Links

GCHQ denies plans to monitor all internet use and phone calls (opens in new tab)

(Telegraph)

GCHQ denies plans to monitor all internet use and phone calls (opens in new tab)

(Newstin)

Plan to monitor all web use denied (opens in new tab)

(Channel4 News)

Plan to monitor all web use denied (opens in new tab)

(Press Association)

GCHQ defends snooping project (opens in new tab)

(Teletext)

GCHQ denies plans to spy on all UK internet use (opens in new tab)

(Liverpool Daily Post)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.