The GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS HEADQUARTERS (GCHQ) is a British
intelligence and security organisation responsible for providing
signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance to the British
government and armed forces . Based in "
The Doughnut ", in the
GCHQ was originally established after the
First World War
In 2013, GCHQ received considerable media attention when the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the agency was in the process of collecting all online and telephone data in the UK via the Tempora programme. Snowden's revelations began a spate of ongoing disclosures of global surveillance .
* 1 Structure
* 2 History
* 2.1 Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS)
* 2.2 Post
Second World War
* 2.2.1 Public key encryption * 2.2.2 Trade union disputes
* 2.3 Post Cold War
* 2.3.1 1990s: Post- Cold War restructuring * 2.3.2 2000s: Coping with the Internet
* 3 CESG and NCSC * 4 Joint Technical Language Service * 5 International relationships
* 6 Legal basis
* 6.1 Oversight * 6.2 Abuses
* 7 Constitutional legal case * 8 Leadership * 9 Stations and former stations * 10 In popular culture * 11 See also * 12 Notes and references * 13 Bibliography * 14 External links
GCHQ is led by the Director of GCHQ, currently Jeremy Fleming , and a Corporate Board, made up of Executive and Non-Executive Directors. Reporting to the Corporate Board is:
* Sigint missions: comprising maths and cryptanalysis , IT and computer systems, linguistics and translation, and the intelligence analysis unit * Enterprise: comprising applied research and emerging technologies, corporate knowledge and information systems, commercial supplier relationships, and biometrics * Corporate management: enterprise resource planning, human resources , internal audit, and architecture * Communications-Electronics Security Group
GOVERNMENT CODE AND CYPHER SCHOOL (GC&CS)
During the First World War, the United Kingdom's Army and Navy had separate signals intelligence agencies, MI1b and NID25 (initially known as Room 40) respectively. In 1919, the Cabinet's Secret Service Committee, chaired by Lord Curzon , recommended that a peace-time codebreaking agency should be created, a task given to the then-Director of Naval Intelligence , Hugh Sinclair . Sinclair merged staff from NID25 and MI1b into the new organisation, which initially consisted of around 25–30 officers and a similar number of clerical staff. It was titled the "Government Code and Cypher School", a cover-name chosen by Victor Forbes of the Foreign Office .
Alastair Denniston , who had been a member of NID25, was appointed as
its operational head. It was initially under the control of the
Before the Second World War, GC&CS was a relatively small department.
By 1922, the main focus of GC&CS was on diplomatic traffic, with "no
service traffic ever worth circulating" and so, at the initiative of
Lord Curzon, it was transferred from the
In the 1920s, GC&CS was successfully reading Soviet Union diplomatic ciphers. However, in May 1927, during a row over clandestine Soviet support for the General Strike and the distribution of subversive propaganda, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin made details from the decrypts public. Main article: Ultra (cryptography)
During the Second World War, GC&CS was based largely at Bletchley
Park in present-day
An outstation in the Far East, the
Far East Combined Bureau was set
up in Hong Kong in 1935, and moved to Singapore in 1939. Subsequently,
with the Japanese advance down the Malay Peninsula, the Army and RAF
codebreakers went to the
Wireless Experimental Centre in Delhi, India.
The Navy codebreakers in FECB went to
GC GCHQ retaliated by forcibly deporting Hosenball from the UK.
GCHQ had a very low profile in the media until 1983 when the trial of
Geoffrey Prime , a
Since the days of the Second World War, US and British intelligence have shared information. For the GCHQ this means that it shares information with, and gets information from, the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.
Public Key Encryption
Early in the 1970s, the concept for public key encryption was developed and proven by James H. Ellis , a GCHQ staff member since 1952, who lacked the necessary number theory expertise necessary to build a workable system. Subsequently, a feasible implementation scheme via an asymmetric key algorithm was invented by another staff member Clifford Cocks , a mathematics graduate. This fact was kept secret until 1997.
Trade Union Disputes
In 1984, GCHQ was the centre of a political row when the Conservative
The ban was eventually lifted by the incoming Labour government in 1997, with the Government Communications Group of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) being formed to represent interested employees at all grades. In 2000, a group of 14 former GCHQ employees, who had been dismissed after refusing to give up their union membership, were offered re-employment, which three of them accepted.
POST COLD WAR
1990s: Post- Cold War Restructuring
Intelligence Services Act 1994 placed the activities of the
intelligence agencies on a legal footing for the first time, defining
their purpose, and the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security
Committee was given a remit to examine the expenditure, administration
and policy of the three intelligence agencies. The objectives of GCHQ
were defined as working as "in the interests of national security,
with particular reference to the defence and foreign policies of Her
Majesty's government; in the interests of the economic wellbeing of
the United Kingdom; and in support of the prevention and the detection
of serious crime". During the introduction of the Intelligence Agency
Act in late 1993, the former Prime Minister
In 1993, in the wake of the " Squidgygate " affair, GCHQ denied "intercepting, recording or disclosing" the telephone calls of the British Royal family.
In late 1993 civil servant Michael Quinlan advised a deep review of the work of GCHQ following the conclusion of his "Review of Intelligence Requirements and Resources", which had imposed a 3% cut on the agency. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury , Jonathan Aitken , subsequently held face to face discussions with the intelligence agency directors to assess further savings in the wake of Quinlan's review. Aldrich (2010) suggests that Sir John Adye , the then Director of GCHQ performed badly in meetings with Aitken, leading Aitken to conclude that GCHQ was "suffering from out-of-date methods of management and out-of-date methods for assessing priorities". GCHQ's budget was £850 million in 1993, (£1.56 billion as of 2015) compared to £125 million for MI5 and SIS. In December 1994 the businessman Roger Hurn was commissioned to begin a review of GCHQ, which was concluded in March 1995. Hurn's report recommended a cut of £100 million in GCHQ's budget; such a large reduction had not been suffered by any British intelligence agency since the end of World War II. The J Division of GCHQ, which had collected SIGINT on Russia, disappeared as result of the cuts. The cuts had been mostly reversed by 2000 in the wake of threats from violent non-state actors , and risks from increased terrorism, organised crime and illegal access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
David Omand became the Director of GCHQ in 1996, and greatly restructured the agency in the face of new and changing targets and rapid technological change. Omand introduced the concept of "Sinews" (or "SIGINT New Systems") which allowed more flexible working methods, avoiding overlaps in work by creating fourteen domains, each with a well-defined working scope. The tenure of Omand also saw the planning and the creation of The Doughnut , GCHQ's modern headquarters. Located on a 176-acre site in Benhall, near Cheltenham, The Doughnut would be the largest building constructed for secret intelligence operations outside the United States.
Operations at GCHQ’s Chum Hom Kwok listening station in Hong Kong ended in 1994. GCHQ's Hong Kong operations were extremely important to their relationship with the NSA, who contributed investment and equipment to the station. In anticipation of the transfer of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, the Hong Kong stations operations were moved to Geraldton in Australia.
Operations that utilised GCHQ's intelligence-gathering capabilities
in the 1990s included the monitoring of communications of Iraqi
soldiers in the
2000s: Coping With The Internet
At the end of 2003, GCHQ moved to a new circular HQ (popularly known
as "The Doughnut"). At the time, it was the second-largest
public-sector building project in Europe, with an estimated cost of
£337 million. The new building, which was designed by
The public spotlight fell on GCHQ in late 2003 and early 2004 following the sacking of Katharine Gun after she leaked to _The Observer _ a confidential email from agents at the United States' National Security Agency addressed to GCHQ agents about the wiretapping of UN delegates in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war .
GCHQ gains its intelligence by monitoring a wide variety of
communications and other electronic signals. For this, a number of
stations have been established in the UK and overseas. The listening
stations are at
In March 2010, GCHQ was criticised by the Intelligence and Security Committee for problems with its IT security practices and failing to meet its targets for work targeted against cyber attacks.
As revealed by
Edward Snowden in _
According to Edward Snowden, GCHQ has two principal umbrella programs for collecting communications:
* " Mastering the Internet " (MTI) for Internet traffic, which is extracted from fiber-optic cables and can be searched by using the Tempora computer system. * " Global Telecoms Exploitation " (GTE) for telephone traffic.
GCHQ also has had access to the US internet monitoring programme PRISM since at least June 2010. PRISM is said to give the National Security Agency and FBI easy access to the systems of nine of the world's top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and Skype.
In February 2014, _The Guardian_, based on documents provided by Snowden, revealed that GCHQ had indiscriminately collected 1.8 million private Yahoo webcam images from users across the world. In the same month NBC and The Intercept , based on documents released by Snowden, revealed the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group and the CNE units within GCHQ. Their mission was cyber operations based on "dirty tricks" to shut down enemy communications, discredit, and plant misinformation on enemies. These operations were 5% of all GCHQ operations according to a conference slideshow presented by the GCHQ.
Soon after becoming Director of GCHQ in 2014, Robert Hannigan wrote an article in the _ Financial Times _ on the topic of internet surveillance , stating that "however much may dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals" and that GCHQ and its sister agencies "cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector", arguing that most internet users "would be comfortable with a better and more sustainable relationship between the agencies and the tech companies". Since the 2013 global surveillance disclosures , large US technology companies have improved security and become less co-operative with foreign intelligence agencies, including those of the UK, generally requiring a US court order before disclosing data. However the head of the UK technology industry group techUK rejected these claims, stating that they understood the issues but that disclosure obligations "must be based upon a clear and transparent legal framework and effective oversight rather than, as suggested, a deal between the industry and government".
In 2015, documents obtained by _ The Intercept _ from U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that GCHQ had carried out a mass-surveillance operation, codenamed KARMA POLICE , since about 2008. The KARMA POLICE operation swept up the IP address of Internet users visiting websites. The program was established with no public scrutiny or oversight. KARMA POLICE is a powerful spying tool in conjunction with other GCHQ programs, because IP addresses could be cross-referenced with other data. The goal of the program, according to the documents, was "either (a) a web browsing profile for every visible user on the internet, or (b) a user profile for every visible website on the internet."
In 2015, GCHQ admitted for the first time in court that it conducts computer hacking.
In 2017, U.S. Press Secretary
Sean Spicer alleged that GCHQ had
conducted surveillance on U.S. President
CESG AND NCSC
CESG (originally Communications-Electronics Security Group) was a group within GCHQ which provided assistance to government departments on their own communications security: CESG was the UK National Technical Authority for information assurance , including cryptography . CESG did not manufacture security equipment, but worked with industry to ensure the availability of suitable products and services, while GCHQ itself funded research into such areas, for example to the Centre for Quantum Computing at Oxford University and the Heilbronn Institute at the University of Bristol .
CESG ran a number of assurance schemes such as CHECK, CLAS , Commercial Product Assurance (CPA) and CESG Assisted Products Service (CAPS).
In 2016, the National Cyber Security Centre was established under GCHQ, but located in London, as the UK’s authority on cyber security. It absorbed and replaced the CESG as well as the Centre for Cyber Assessment (CCA), Computer Emergency Response Team UK (CERT UK) and the cyber-related responsibilities of the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI).
JOINT TECHNICAL LANGUAGE SERVICE
The Joint Technical Language Service (JTLS) was established in 1955, drawing on members of the small Ministry of Defence technical language team and others, initially to provide standard English translations for organisational expressions in any foreign language, discover the correct English equivalents of technical terms in foreign languages and discover the correct expansions of abbreviations in any language.
The remit of the JTLS has expanded in the ensuing years to cover technical language support and interpreting and translation services across the UK Government and to local public sector services in Gloucestershire and surrounding counties. The JTLS also produces and publishes foreign language working aids under crown copyright and conducts research into machine translation and on-line dictionaries and glossaries.
The JTLS is co-located with GCHQ for administrative purposes.
GCHQ operates in partnership with equivalent agencies worldwide in a
number of bi-lateral and multi-lateral relationships. The principal of
these is with the United States (
National Security Agency ), Canada
Communications Security Establishment
Relationships are alleged to include shared collection methods, such
as the system described in the popular media as
Main article: Intelligence Services Act 1994
GCHQ's legal basis is enshrined in the Intelligence Services Act 1994 Section 3 as follows:
(1) There shall continue to be a Government Communications
Headquarters under the authority of the Secretary of State; and,
subject to subsection (2) below, its functions shall be— (a) to
monitor or interfere with electromagnetic, acoustic and other
emissions and any equipment producing such emissions and to obtain and
provide information derived from or related to such emissions or
equipment and from encrypted material; and (b) to provide advice and
assistance about— (i) languages, including terminology used for
technical matters, and (ii) cryptography and other matters relating to
the protection of information and other material, to the armed forces
of the Crown, to
Her Majesty's Government in the
(2) The functions referred to in subsection (1)(a) above shall be
exercisable only— (a) in the interests of national security, with
particular reference to the defence and foreign policies of Her
Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom; or (b) in the interests of
the economic well-being of the
(3) In this Act the expression "GCHQ" refers to the Government Communications Headquarters and to any unit or part of a unit of the armed forces of the Crown which is for the time being required by the Secretary of State to assist the Government Communications Headquarters in carrying out its functions.
Activities that involve interception of communications are permitted
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 ; this kind of
interception can only be carried out after a warrant has been issued
by a Secretary of State . The
Human Rights Act 1998 requires the
intelligence agencies, including GCHQ, to respect citizens' rights as
described in the
European Convention on Human Rights
The Prime Minister nominates cross-party Members of Parliament to an
Intelligence and Security Committee
Judicial oversight of GCHQ's conduct is exercised by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal . The UK also has an independent Intelligence Services Commissioner and Interception of Communications Commissioner, both of whom are former senior judges.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled in December 2014 that GCHQ does not breach the European Convention of Human Rights , and that its activities are compliant with Articles 8 (right to privacy) and 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention of Human Rights. However, the Tribunal stated in February 2015 that one particular aspect, the data-sharing arrangement that allowed UK Intelligence services to request data from the US surveillance programmes Prism and Upstream , had been in contravention of human rights law prior to this until two paragraphs of additional information, providing details about the procedures and safeguards, were disclosed to the public in December 2014.
Furthermore, the IPT ruled that the legislative framework in the
Despite the inherent secrecy around much of GCHQ's work,
investigations carried out by the UK government after the Snowden
disclosures have admitted various abuses by the security services. A
report by the
Intelligence and Security Committee
Later that year, a ruling by the IPT found that GCHQ acted unlawfully in conducting surveillance on two human rights organisations. The closed hearing found the government in breach of its internal surveillance policies in accessing and retaining the communications of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa. This was only the second time in the IPT's history that it has made a positive determination in favour of applicants after a closed session.
At another IPT case in 2015, GCHQ conceded that "from January 2010, the regime for the interception/obtaining, analysis, use, disclosure and destruction of legally privileged material has not been in accordance with the law for the purposes of Article 8(2) of the European convention on human rights and was accordingly unlawful". This admission was made in connection with a case brought against them by Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a Libyan opponent of the former Gaddafi regime, and his wife Fatima Bouchar. The couple accused British ministers and officials of participating in their unlawful abduction, kidnapping and removal to Libya in March 2004, while Gaddafi was still in power.
It was further reported in 2015 that British intelligence services,
including GCHQ, had been spying on MPs in defiance of laws prohibiting
it. GCHQ had introduced a policy in March 2015 that did not require
approval by the Prime Minister, or any Minister, before deliberately
targeting the communications of a parliamentarian. This is despite
Home Secretary ,
CONSTITUTIONAL LEGAL CASE
A controversial GCHQ case determined the scope of judicial review of prerogative powers (the Crown's residual powers under common law). This was _Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service _ AC 374 (often known simply as the "GCHQ case"). In this case, a prerogative Order in Council had been used by the prime minister (who is the Minister for the Civil Service ) to ban trade union activities by civil servants working at GCHQ. This order was issued without consultation. The House of Lords had to decide whether this was reviewable by judicial review . It was held that executive action is not immune from judicial review simply because it uses powers derived from common law rather than statute (thus the prerogative is reviewable). Controversially, they also held that although the failure to consult was unfair, this was overridden by concerns of national security.
Main article: Director of the Government Communications Headquarters
The following is a list of the heads of the operational heads of GCHQ and GC -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">
* ^ House of Commons (5 July 2016). _Intelligence and Security
Committee of Parliament Annual Report 2015–2016_, page 14. Retrieved
23 October 2016.
* ^ House of Commons (5 July 2016). _Intelligence and Security
Committee of Parliament Annual Report 2015–2016_, page 10. Retrieved
12 January 2017.
* ^ GCHQ – Welcome to GCHQ, gchq.gov.uk. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
* ^ "A simple guide to GCHQ\'s internet surveillance programme
* ^ "
Jeremy Fleming named as new GCHQ head".
_News.sky.com_. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
* ^ Aldrich, 2010, p. 565
* ^ (secondary) Leong, Angela (2007). _The Disruption of
International Organised Crime: An Analysis of Legal and Non-Legal
Strategies_. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-7066-X . Retrieved 19
* ^ Gannon, Paul (2011). _Inside Room 40: The Codebreakers of World
War I_. Ian Allen Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7110-3408-2 .
* ^ Johnson, 1997, p. 27
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ Johnson, 1997, p. 44
* ^ Johnson, 1997, p. 45 and Kahn, 1991, p. 82; these sources give
different numbers for the initial size of the GC&CS staff
* ^ Macksey, Kenneth (2003). _The Searchers: How Radio Interception
Changed the Course of Both World Wars_. Cassell Military. p. 58. ISBN
* ^ Smith, 2001, pp. 16–17
* ^ Kahn, 1991, p. 82
* ^ Denniston, Alastair G. (1986). "The Government Code and Cypher
School Between the Wars". _Intelligence and National Security_. 1 (1):
48–70. doi :10.1080/02684528608431841 .
* ^ Smith, 2001, pp. 20–21
* ^ Smith, 2001, pp. 18–19
* ^ Aldrich, 2010, p. 18
* ^ Gannon, Paul (2006). _Colossus: Bletchley Park’s Greatest
Secret_. Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-84354-331-2 .
* ^ Alvarez, David (2001). "Most Helpful and Cooperative: GC
Erskine, Ralph. _Action This Day:
Bletchley Park from the Breaking of
the Enigma Code to the Birth of the Modern Computer_. Bantam Press.
ISBN 978-0593049105 .
* ^ Smith, Michael (1998). _Station X_. Channel 4 books. p. 176.
ISBN 0-330-41929-3 .
* ^ "History of GCHQ Cheltenham". _GCHQ website 'About Us' pages_.
Archived from the original on 5 October 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2006.
* ^ Duncan Campbell;
Mark Hosenball (21 May 1976). "The
Eavesdroppers" (PDF). _Time Out_. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
* ^ Court ruling, "R v Secretary of State for the Home Department,
ex parte Hosenball", 1 W.L.R. 766; 3 All E.R. 452. Lord Denning
presiding judge, 29 March 1977.
* ^ Aldrich, 2010, p. 382
* ^ Murray, Craig (16 October 2007). _Dirty Diplomacy_. Scribner.
p. 332. ISBN 978-1416548010 .
* ^ Singh, Simon . "Unsung Heroes of Cryptography". (originally
The Sunday Telegraph )
* ^ "EComHR Inadmissibility decision of EComHR on application no.
* ^ "EComHR Inadmissibility decision of EComHR on application no.
11603/85 — The Facts". para. IV
* ^ "Union representation". _GCHQ website_. Archived from the
original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2006.
* ^ "Sacked GCHQ workers win compensation". BBC News. 1 February
2000. Retrieved 12 April 2006.
* ^ "ISC - About". _The
Intelligence and Security Committee
Robert Hannigan (3 November 2014). "The web is a terrorist\'s
command-and-control network of choice". _Financial Times_. Retrieved 3
* ^ Sam Jones and Murad Ahmed (3 November 2014). "Tech groups aid
terror, says UK spy chief". _Financial Times_. Retrieved 3 November
* ^ David Barrett (4 November 2014). "Tech giants reject GCHQ boss
Robert Hannigan\'s call for deal with government". _Daily Telegraph_.
Retrieved 5 November 2014.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Ryan Gallager, Profiled: From Radio to Porn,
British Spies Track Web Users\' Online Identities], _The Intercept_
(September 25, 2015).
* ^ Croft, Jane (1 December 2015) UK spy agency GCHQ admits it
carries out computer hacking. _Financial Times_
* ^ Farrell, Henry (16 March 2017)
Sean Spicer just suggested that
Obama used British intelligence to spy on Trump. Not so much.
* ^ Blake, Aaron (16 March 2017) Sean Spicer\'s angry, lonely
defense of Trump\'s wiretapping claim, annotated. _Washington Post_
* ^ "US makes formal apology to Britain after White House accuses
GCHQ of wiretapping Trump Tower". _The Telegraph_. 17 March 2017.
Retrieved 17 March 2017.
* ^ "White House apologizes to British government over spying
claims". _CNN_. 17 December 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
* ^ "GCHQ dismisses \'utterly ridiculous\' claim it helped wiretap
Trump US news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
* ^ "British spies were first to spot Trump team\'s links with
Russia UK news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
* ^ "British intelligence passed Trump associates\' communications
with Russians on to US counterparts". _CNN_. 14 April 2017. Retrieved
14 April 2017.
* ^ "Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research". University of
Bristol . Retrieved 30 August 2008.
* ^ "CESG Service Catalogue". Retrieved 17 August 2015.
* ^ "About us". National Cyber Security Centre. Retrieved 9 March
* ^ Newmark, Peter (1991). _About Translation_. Multilingual
Matters. p. 40. ISBN 1-85359-118-1 .
* ^ Schmid, Gerhard (11 July 2001). "On the existence of a global
system for the interception of private and commercial communications
* Aldrich, Richard J. (2010). _GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency_. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0007278473 . * Johnson, John (1997). _The Evolution of British Sigint: 1653–1939_. HMSO. ASIN B002ALSXTC . * Kahn, David (1991). _Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939–1943_. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0395427392 . * Smith, Michael (2001). "GC Erskine, Ralph. _Action This Day: Bletchley Park from the Breaking of the Enigma Code to the Birth of the Modern Computer_. Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0593049105 .
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