In its latest revelation garnered from the Edward Snowden leaks, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports that UK citizens not suspected of any wrong-doing were caught up in a dragnet US mass surveillance program. More importantly for New Zealanders, the story refers to a separate draft memo that proposed US spying on its five eyes allies.
The Snowden material reveals that in 2007 the rules were changed to allow the NSA to analyse and retain any British citizens’ mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses swept up in the dragnet.
A separate draft memo, marked top secret and dated from 2005, reveals a proposed NSA procedure for spying on the citizens of all the five eyes nations, even where the partner government had explicitly denied the US permission to do so. The Guardian says the memo makes it clear that partner countries must not be informed about this surveillance or even about the procedure itself.
The 2007 memo was sent to all analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, which is responsible for collecting, processing and sharing information from the surveillance programs.
The UK Liason Office of the GCHQ and the NSA had worked together to come up with a new policy that expanded the use of incidentally collected, unminimised UK data.
The five eyes partnership began in 1946 with an agreement between the US and the UK. It has been a convention that the allied intelligence agencies do not monitor one another’s citizens without permission.