Europe between past and future

Dec 4, 2014

Snowden reveals British tapping US/Ireland communications

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Snowden reveals British tapping US/Ireland communications

The main cable link between Ireland and America has been tapped by British intelligence, a new raft of papers released by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

The new documents, published in a German newspaper, reveal that a number of underwater cables that connect Ireland to the word are all being tapped into by British intelligence.

It means that all internet communications as well as phone calls are potentially intercepted by British intelligence.

The main cable connecting the US and Ireland is called Hibernia and stretches from Dublin to South Kerry across the Atlantic to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Another leg of the same cable stretches from Dublin to Holyhead in Wales.

A document released by Snowden details those cables which the British Government Communication Headquarters, based in Cheltenham in England, has either gained or sought access to.

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is a British intelligence and security organization responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance to the British government and armed forces under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) alongside the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Defence Intelligence (DI).

The document notes that the British intelligence operatives are dissatisfied with their access to the Irish cables and wants it improved.

The Snowden documents outline a number of underwater cables – the lines that connect Ireland to the outside world that are being tapped.

"... across the Atlantic to Halifax Nova Scotia." How about that? CSIS will probably become peeved with this news. Further to the above report, Cryptome has posted a link to a site that carefully analyzes the recently released Snowden documents.

INCENSER, or how NSA and GCHQ are tapping internet cables

Recently disclosed documents show that the NSA's fourth-largest cable tapping program, codenamed INCENSER, pulls its data from just one single source: a submarine fiber optic cable linking Asia with Europe.

Until now, it was only known that INCENSER was a sub-program of WINDSTOP and that it collected some 14 billion pieces of internet data a month. The latest revelations now say that these data were collected with the help of the British company Cable & Wireless (codenamed GERONTIC, now part of Vodafone) at a location in Cornwall in the UK, codenamed NIGELLA.

For the first time, this gives us a view on the whole interception chain, from the parent program all the way down to the physical interception facility. Here we will piece together what is known about these different stages and programs from recent and earlier publications.


The cables tapped at NIGELLA by GERONTIC under the INCENSER and WINDSTOP programs


The entire article goes into minute detail about this NSA/GCHQ cable-tapping operation and the comment thread is open.

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