Wednesday, June 26, 2013

UK Snooping Organization-
(GCHQ) Government Communications Headquarters
The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is a Britishintelligence agency responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) andinformation assurance to the British government and armed forces. Based inCheltenham, it operates under the guidance of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
GCHQ was originally established after the First World War as the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS or GCCS), by which name it was known until 1946. During the Second World War it was located at Bletchley Park.
GCHQ is the responsibility of the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, but it is not a part of the Foreign Office, and its Director ranks as a Permanent Secretary.
CESG is the branch of GCHQ which works to secure the communications and information systems of the government and critical parts of British national infrastructure.
The JTLS (Joint Technical Language Service) is a small department and cross-government resource responsible for mainly technical language support and translation and interpreting services across government departments. It is co-located with GCHQ for administrative purposes.

Post Cold War[edit]

Since 1994, GCHQ activities have been subject to scrutiny by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee. Post-Cold War, the aims of GCHQ were set out by the Intelligence Services Act 1994.[26]
GCHQ's location today is not a secret
At the end of 2003, GCHQ moved to a new circular HQ (popularly known as 'the Doughnut'): at the time, it was the second-largest public-sector building project in Europe , with an estimated cost of £337 million.[27] The new building, which was designed by Gensler and constructed byCarillion,[28] is the base for all of GCHQ's Cheltenham operations.
The public spotlight fell on GCHQ in late 2003 and early 2004 following the sacking of Katharine Gun after she leaked to The Observer a confidential email from agents at the American National Security Agency addressed to GCHQ agents about the wire-tapping of UN delegates in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.[29]
GCHQ gains its intelligence by monitoring a wide variety of communications and other electronic signals. For this, a number of stations have been established in the UK and overseas. The listening stations are at Cheltenham itself, Bude, Ascension Island, with the U.S.A. , atMenwith Hill.[30] Ayios Nikolaos Station in Cyprus is run by the British Armed Forces for GCHQ.[31]
In March 2010, GCHQ was criticised by the Intelligence and Security Committee for problems with its IT security practices and failing to meet its targets for work targeted against cyber attacks.[32]

Spying on foreign politicians at 2009 G-20 London Summit[edit]

As revealed by Edward Snowden in The Guardian, the GCHQ have been spying on foreign politicians visiting the 2009 G-20 London Summit by eavesdropping phonecalls, emails and monitoring their computers, in some cases even ongoing after the summit viakeyloggers that had been installed during the summit.[33] Some of the gained informations have been passed on to British politicians.

2013 Tempora data collection[edit]

Main article: Tempora
Documents leaked by former CIA worker Edward Snowden in 2013 suggest that the UK data-gathering centre GCHQ operates aclandestine security electronic surveillance program named "Tempora" and has had access to the US internet monitoring programmePRISM since at least June 2010. PRISM is said to give the National Security Agency and FBI easy access to the systems of nine of the world's top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype. [34]


CESG (originally Communications-Electronics Security Group) is the group within GCHQ which provides assistance to government departments on their own communications security: CESG is the UK National Technical Authority for information assurance, includingcryptography. CESG does not manufacture security equipment, but works with industry to ensure the availability of suitable products and services, while GCHQ itself can fund research into such areas, for example to the Centre for Quantum Computing at Oxford University and the Heilbronn Institute at the University of Bristol.[35]
CESG runs a number of schemes such as CHECK, CLAS, Commercial Product Assurance, and CESG Claims Tested Mark and CAPS.[36]

Joint Technical Language Service[edit]

The Joint Technical Language Service (JTLS) was established in 1955,[37] drawing on members of the small Ministry of Defence technical language team and others, initially to provide standard English translations for organisational expressions in any foreign language, discover the correct English equivalents of technical terms in foreign languages and discover the correct expansions of abbreviations in any language. The remit of the JTLS has expanded in the ensuing years to cover technical language support and interpreting and translation services across the UK Government and to local public sector services in Gloucestershire and surrounding counties. The JTLS also produces and publishes foreign language working aids under crown copyright and conducts research into machine translation and on-line dictionaries and glossaries.
The JTLS is co-located with GCHQ for administrative purposes.

International relationships[edit]

GCHQ operates in partnership with equivalent agencies worldwide in a number of bi-lateral and multi-lateral relationships. The principal of these is with the United States (National Security Agency), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate) and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), through the mechanism of the UK-US Security Agreement, a broad intelligence sharing agreement encompassing a range of intelligence collection methods.
Relationships are alleged to include shared collection methods, such as the system described in the popular media as ECHELON,[38]as well as analysed product.

Constitutional legal case[edit]

A controversial GCHQ case determined the scope of judicial review of prerogative powers (the Crown's residual powers under common law). This was Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service [1985] AC 374 (often known simply as the "GCHQ case"). In this case, a prerogative Order in Council had been used by the prime minister (who is the Minister for the Civil Service) to ban trade union activities by civil servants working at GCHQ. This order was issued without consultation. The House of Lords had to decide whether this was reviewable by judicial review. It was held that executive action is not immune from judicial review simply because it uses powers derived from common law rather than statute (thus the prerogative is reviewable). Controversially, they also held that although the failure to consult was unfair, this was overridden by concerns of national security.


Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ for short, moved to Cheltenham in 1952. In 1942 the site was handed to the US army, to become the headquarters of its Services of Supply (SOS). In 1944 this US headquarters moved to France and Cheltenham site became an outstation of the Ministry of Pensions.
Throughout the war GCHQ, which was until 1946 known as GC&CS, had its base in the famous Bletchley Park , now part of Milton Keynes , where secret codes were broken, most famously the German Enigma.
The original GCHQ building


Throughout the Cold War GCHQ played an important part in the field of secure communications. In 1973 James H. Ellis , Clifford Christopher Cocks and Malcolm J. Williamson at GCHQ developed what is now known as public key encryption, where message is encoded with a widely distributed public key but can’t be decoded unless an individual owns a secret private key, making the process of encryption much easier. This fact was kept secret though until 1997.
Until the Geoffrey Prime spy scandal in 1982, the Government had refused to reveal what GCHQ's real role was. Geoffrey Prime had worked for the RAF on intelligence duties in West Berlin and also for GCHQ as a linguist. He was a section head and translator at GCHQ and involved in some of its most sensitive operations. He was sentenced at the Old Bailey in 1982 for 14 years of treachery during which time he passed photographs of hundreds of documents to his Russian handlers. He was released from Rochester Prison , Kent , after serving 19 years of a 38 year prison sentence.
The new GCHQ building


In 1999 it was decided that a new purpose built building would be built to accommodate GCHQ staff at single site at Benhall. The buildings at Oakley were demolished and by 2003 the now famous doughnut shaped building was finished. It cost about £330m, making it the largest Private Finance Initiative project ever undertaken.
Today, two-thirds of Britain 's intelligence comes from this single building. Its 4,500 staff patrol global cyberspace 24 hours a day to eavesdrop on millions of telephone conversations, emails, faxes and coded messages using 'Echelon', an American system, whic was given to GCHQ in the 1990s, enabling it to tap into any telephone conversation anywhere across the globe.

No comments:

Post a Comment