GCHQ has lost track of some of the most dangerous crime lords and has had to abort surveillance on others, after the Edward Snowden leaks revealed their tactics.
The intelligence agency has suffered “significant” damage in its ability to monitor and capture serious organised criminals as intelligence officers are now blind to more than a quarter of the activities of the UK’s most harmful crime gangs after they changed their communications methods in the wake of the Snowden leaks.
Spy bosses had already warned that the Snowden leaks, revealed in a series of articles published by the Guardian newspaper, had seriously affected their efforts to track terrorists, but the Daily Telegraph revealed the scale of the harm it has also done to GCHQ’s other duty – to combat serious and organised crime.
A senior security official said: “Snowden has been very damaging to our work. We have specific evidence of where key targets have changed their communication behaviour as a direct result of what they have read. They have moved to more secure forms of communication and we have been unable to assist the NCA (National Crime Agency). It takes longer to help law enforcement and because we only focus on the most serious, the top end networks, then the impact they have in the mean time is multiplied.”
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