British intelligence services are suspected to have a top-secret internet spy base in the Middle East region whose stability is extremely important for all superpowers. The revelation of the existence of this covert listening station in the Middle-East is the latest stunning revelation to come out from the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and released lately by British newspaper “The Independent”.
The location of this clandestine station, which intercepts e-mails, telephone calls and internet traffic, has not been disclosed. But some experts suggest the base or at least parts of it might be located in Cyprus which has an undersea cable nexus for the Middle-East region. It could be located inside one of the island’s British military base areas, which remain sovereign UK territory.
According to the British government, the primary goal of this center is to “fight terrorism and organized crime”, but privacy advocates fear freedoms violation, abuse or misuse of data collected, besides serious concerns over invasion of privacy.
Several western countries have increased electronic eavesdropping operations and enhanced control over the Middle East online traffic after the 9/11 attacks and other terror attacks.
Some telecom experts does not seem so surprised about the revelation of Britain’s secret internet monitoring station which taps into undersea fiber optic communications and scoops all web users and activities in the Middle-East region.
According to the Independent daily, the collected data by the online troops is, firstly, sifted and processed before transmitted to UK intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), in Cheltenham, southwest England, which then shares it with the US National Security Agency (NSA).
The cyber-activities monitoring is part of a $ 1.5 billion internet project still being assembled by GCHQ. It is part of a wider online surveillance program code-named “Tempora” which seeks to tap into global digital communications, including emails, text messages…
Snowden, who is behind all these revelations that embarrassed intelligences communities in both the US and Britain, lives now in Russia which granted him temporary asylum to avoid criminal prosecution in the United States.
The leaked documents provide insights into the US major surveillance programs and techniques used by intelligence analysts to process billions of records they gather each year.
Though controversial, these secrete listening programs proved useful and extremely valuable tools which helped law enforcement agencies to foil and disrupt several potential terror attacks worldwide. Yet, they continue to stir an intense debate on surveillance practices and the right to privacy of citizens.