Ireland Submarine Cables Tapped by British Intelligence Agency

Snowden’s latest release shows that British Intelligence Agency has been on a Cyber-espionage campaign, tapping literally all communication cables linking Ireland to the world. The Irish government has been criticized for cowardice in responding to the security breach and experts believe the controversy will re-shape diplomatic ties between the two nations.

Irish government is under intense criticism from the public for failing to respond decisively to attacks on its Optic fiber cables by the British government.  Edward Snowden’s documents leaked earlier this week to Irish media unearthed an integrated campaign to subvert Irish submarine cables, which connect Ireland to the Globe by British intelligence agency.

Its now clear Irish nationals expected a stun action against London but the Irish government has opted to burry its head on the sand. “They have been rather cowardly in this matter, in putting their heads down and hoping it will go away,” says Dr. TJ McIntyre, the chairman of a privacy advocacy group, Digital Rights Ireland and a lecturer at University College Dublin School of law.

Snowden’s leaked documents revealed that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British Signal Intelligence Agency based in Cheltenham London, has tapped Ireland’s major undersea communication cables, implying they are able eavesdrop literally on all communications to and from Ireland.

Cables affected by the breach include, SOLAS, which  stretches from Kilmore Quay in Wexford to Oxwich Bay in UK, ESAT1, from Welford to Sennen Cove in Cornwall and ESAT2 which stretches from Southport all the way to Liverpool UK.  GCHQ also tapped, Herbernia cable which links Ireland to US and Canada. The communication cables carry a wide of range of data from telephone communication to Internet traffic.

The documents published on Irish media point fingers at Vodafone UK, and its subsidiaries for aiding Government Communications Headquarters’ (GCHQ) to establish one the most “controversial surveillance programmes” in the history of Ireland. Snowden’s documents reveals that cable and Wireless firms affiliated to Vodafone “provided the most data to GCHQ mass surveillance programmes, and received millions of pounds in compensation”.

Vodafone has denied the accusations saying the company never went beyond the telecommunication Laws which outline the extent to which Vodafone can disclose customers’ private data or cooperate with government agencies. In statement Vodafone said it “does not recognize any of the intelligence activities identified and we have no more knowledge of or information about any of those intelligence agency activities.”

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties together with its sister organizations has denounced the sabotage of Irish communication cables and criticized the Irish government for cowardice and laxity in responding to the security Breach. The council said it was “perfectly prepared and well-equipped” to pursue the matter with European Court of Human Rights.

ICCL director Mark Kelly, said the council had already lodged an official complain with UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a body which adjudicates on matters relating to government surveillance programs. The complaint objects to the interception of Irish communication by the British intelligence agencies. The Tribunal is expected to give a formal ruling later this week.

Top/Featured Image: By Markreidyhp / Wikipedia (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ireland_island_flag.png)

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Ireland Submarine Cables Tapped by British Intelligence Agency

by Ali Qamar time to read: 2 min
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