The European Union Commission has written to Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague demanding answers about its surveillance programme Tempora.
Claims that Britain’s spy services are tapping cables carrying phone calls and internet traffic around the world, come from documents leaked by former CIA worker Edward Snowden.
German Justice Minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, said Britain must explain itself:
“The accusations show that the German government must do everything it can to thoroughly and quickly clear up every open question about Prism and Tempora,” she said adding, “Letters to my colleagues have not been answered yet. The British government must give those answers.”
The ‘Tempora’ programme based at Britain’s intelligence headquarters in Cheltenham, GCHQ, is said to have taken huge amounts of personal information including facebook posts, internet histories and phone calls, and shared it with US intelligence services.
GCHQ says it was ‘scrupulous’ in its compliance with law.
Tobias Eggendorfer from Hamburg Police University explained how the surveillance would have worked:
“You can imagine data transfer best by comparing it to the work of the post office. We send data packets through the internet and then they pass different stations. But in contrast to a package at the post our data package is unpacked. That means everyone can have a look inside. And if the secret service sits between these stations he also can look inside.”
William Hague has been asked to clarify the extent of the ‘Tempora’ surveillance programme to the EU by the end of the week.