Britain’s GCHQ at Cheltenham worked with America on spying (photo:dpa)
PRISM is a form of covert surveillance developed by America’s National Security Agency and used to spy on the British public by its security services, write Sam Khan-McIntyre and Mel Kelly.
It is claimed that Britain’s data-gathering centre, GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, has been intercepting British data using the PRISM programme and sending it through the United States in order to bypass UK laws.
The surveillance was carried out secretly until American computer specialist and former CIA employee Edward Snowden blew the whistle in May 2013 about America’s spying missions on other countries. His revelations are considered the most significant leaks in US history.
The big debate was whether this was legal, but the real issue is whether the spying is right. It seems, by slapping on a label of legality, the British government thinks it can get away with increasing amounts of wrongdoing.
UK national newspaper the Daily Mail reported in July 2013 that ‘Parliament’s spy watchdog called for an investigation into Britain’s laws on intelligence eavesdropping ….as it cleared GCHQ of flouting the existing rules. But the committee raised questions about whether the rules governing intercepts are fit for purpose and whether there is a need for new laws’.
Millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money is being used to spy on the public, without its consent or knowledge, according to another UK newspaper the Guardian in August 2013. The spying involved surveillance of internet traffic on companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook.
The spying was carried out for anti-terrorist reasons, according to UK officials, and was covered by terrorist legislation. US President Barack Obama was reported by the BBC as saying that it had been useful. However, firm evidence has not been produced yet to corroborate this. Others claim terrorists would use other means to communicate.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was a victim of US eavesdropping on her mobile phone, said ‘spying on friends is not acceptable’.
In this respect, if the government is allowed to spy on its people, then does this quote define them as enemies of the public?
Is that the real reason the public ‘democratically’ elect representatives, to work against them and create a two-tier system completely removed from the requirements of those they are supposed to represent.
Representatives would then be working purely for self-interest and personal gain, not far removed from dictatorship. If these spying actions are legal then why not go the whole hog and drop the pretence of the word democracy altogether because it has become synonymous with propaganda.
The authors of this article questioned how elected representatives would respond if the public spied on them.
We challenged 32 Members of the Scottish and British Parliaments to undertake the Prism experience and be scrutinised in their daily lives. They argued that if the MPs are working on our behalf they should have nothing to hide.
We asked if they were willing to be filmed for a day, interviewed on film and complete an online survey on Prism, or give written reasons for not participating.
Thirty of them failed to reply and another declined to be filmed because of the need for privacy on constituency matters.
There are numerous examples of government wrongdoing and corruption across the globe. They include British complicity in the torture of terrorist suspects held by Americans, the use of British weapons in genocide in East Timor and US soldier Bradley Manning’s imprisonment for whistle-blowing about the Iraq war.
Such government actions are legitimised by representatives of the public, but often the public is unaware of what is happening and unable to make a judgment.
While the idea of democracy is upheld in public, it seems to be sabotaged from within.