Seven telcos under investigation for subsea cable spying

12 August 2013 |


BT, Vodafone and five other telecoms companies are under legal investigation for allegedly breaching the Human Rights Act, according to local reports.

The companies are thought to form part of the UK Government Communications Headquarter's (GCHQ) ‘Tempora’ spying programme, and have been accused of allowing the organistaion to access citizen’s private data via their subsea fibre-optic cables.

“Tempora would not have been possible without the complicity of these undersea cable providers,” said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International.

Privacy International has reportedly sent letters requesting further details of their involvement to the companies concerned, which a German newspaper last week confirmed to be BT, Verizon Business, Vodafone Cable, Level 3, Global Crossing, Viatel and Interoute.

The letter is also thought to have stressed that the companies may be included in action already being taken against the GCHQ over its activities in the Prism scandal, which began in June this year following alleged phone monitoring by the US government.

“Despite the companies’ obligation to respect human rights standards, particularly when governments seek to violate them, spy agencies are being allowed to conduct mass surveillance on their systems,” King told reporters.

"By complying with government requests, companies are unlawfully participating in mass and indiscriminate surveillance and are in breach of Article 8.”

Local reports stated that, when questioned, a number of the Tempora companies said that their data protection policies complied with all UK and international laws.