Snowden Docs Reveal UK Tracking Porn Usage

Documents obtained from the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden say that GCHQ, the spy British agency, is secretly operating a program called Karma Police to record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the internet.”

The new allegations have been released by The Intercept, which said that the classified files reveal that GCHQ has been indiscriminately collecting data about people's visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, Facebook, Reddit and news sites operated by CNN, BBC, Channel 4 News and Reuters.

It also said that the documents show that the agency has monitored more than 200,000 people listening to online radio shows, and observed individuals visiting the New-York-based anti-secrecy website Cryptome.

 “The Intercept's report discloses several major strands of the British agency's surveillance operations for the first time, shining a light on how its analysts build profiles about people's instant messenger communications, emails, Skype calls, text messages, cellphone locations and social media interactions,” the site noted. “The surveillance is underpinned by an opaque legal regime that has authorized GCHQ to sift through huge archives of metadata about the private phone calls, emails and Internet browsing histories of Brits, Americans, and any other citizens all without a court order or judicial warrant.”

By 2010, according to the documents, GCHQ was logging 30 billion metadata records per day. By 2012, collection had increased to 50 billion per day, and work was underway to double capacity to 100 billion. The agency was developing what it said would be the world's biggest surveillance engine.

The data is allegedly stored for months and retrospectively searched in a dragnet hunt for behavior online that could be connected to terrorism or other criminal activity.

The UK government has thus far not commented on the report.

The news comes amid a push from the UK government to obtain more surveillance powers to monitor private communications. Last week, the real-life “M”—head of MI5—gave the first live radio interview of a person in that position, ever. Modern-day M, Andrew Parker, called for more up-to-date surveillance powers, warning of the scale of the terror threat that faces the nation.

Home secretary Theresa May is meanwhile making the rounds with telephone and internet companies to gain support for the investigatory powers bill, a.k.a. the “Snooper’s Charter,” that is expected to overhaul Britain’s surveillance laws. That legislation would compel companies to store their customer data for perusal upon request.

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