Datagate Scandal: Britain spied on Italy too
24 October 2013
Britain's Government Communications Headquarters
ROME - New Datagate details have emerged revealing Britain has also played a key role in spying on Italians, using information to further the country's interests while passing data to the NSA.
The disclosures appeared in the preview of an article by L'Espresso that is due out tomorrow. In the article, journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first published the classified documents that were leaked by Edward Snowden, spoke to L'Espresso about American and British surveillance programmes that gather information from Italy.
According to the Snowden documents, British intelligence officials acquired data from Italian citizens as part of the Tempora surveillance programme. The programme allowed Britain to collect large amounts of data through the use of fiber-optic cables that transmit phone calls, emails, and internet traffic in Italy. British intelligence is said to have used the data to protect government interests and to reveal "the political intentions of foreign governments." Intelligence officials oftentimes passed the diplomatic, financial, and military information on to the NSA, according to the report. Mr Greenwald explained that the spying was permissible due to a "third-level agreement" between Italian security services and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
The revelations of British surveillance follow reports on Wednesday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone had been bugged, and her private phone calls recorded, by the United States. Reports also stated that data from other German citizens were also obtained. The German government responded by summoning the US Ambassador to Germany to meet for questioning. Chancellor Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will also hold a bilateral meeting to discuss further developments.
Meanwhile, at the EU summit in Brussels, European leaders discussed the need to adopt a directive on data protection for the next year to ensure proper privacy protection. "It is important to restore confidence," said EU President Herman van Rompuy. A spokesman for the Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding said that now it is time to give a "strong and unequivocal" response to the United States.