Whistleblower Edward Snowden has said that the US National Security Agency deliberately listened in on the activities and staff of prominent human rights organisations.
Addressing members of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg via video link from Moscow, Snowden said that the NSA had deliberately monitored bodies like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
He told MEPs: "The NSA has targeted leaders and staff members of these sorts of organisations, including domestically within the borders of the United States." Snowden did not reveal which groups the NSA had bugged.
The Council of Europe invited the White House to give evidence but it declined.
Labour wants new powers for police and security services to crackdown on cyber-crimes such as child pornography and terrorism, but only with extra checks on how crime agencies are using sensitive data, the shadow home secretary is set to say.
Technological developments have sparked a wave of new types of crime and a 30% hike in recorded online fraud is just the "tip of the iceberg", Yvette Cooper will warn.
But fears about abuse of information in the wake of leaks by ex-US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed widespread spying by Government listening post GCHQ, means new safeguards are needed to protect privacy.
Much stricter controls over access to private data must be introduced to give the public confidence amid fears about the way information can currently be accessed and used, she is expected to say.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden has been elected as rector of Glasgow University following a student vote.
The role of the Rector is to represent students to the senior management of the University and raise issues which concern them.
US intelligence leaker Snowden is currently in Russia after being granted a year's asylum.
Responding to reports that UK and US intelligence agencies have been developing capabilities to take advantage of smartphone applications to gather users' private information, a spokesman for British intelligence agency GCHQ told the Guardian:
It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.
Furthermore, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.
Technology companies have reached a deal that will allow them to tell the public in greater detail about the spying-related court orders they receive, the US Justice Department has said.
The agreement would settle demands from companies such as Google and Microsoft for more leeway to disclose data about the court orders.
Companies will now be able to disclose:
- The number of orders from the government related to criminal activity
- The number of orders from the government related to secret national security
- The number of orders from a foreign intelligence service related to secret national security
- If those orders covered just email addresses or further information
White House spokesman Jay Carney said US surveillance agencies were only interested in collecting data on people considered a threat to the United States.
Mr Carney told a regular White House news conference:
To the extent data is collected by the NSA [National Security Agency] through whatever means, we are not interested in the communications of people who are not valid foreign intelligence targets, and we are not after the information of ordinary Americans.
British intelligence agency GCHQ "would not confirm of deny the existence of the Squeaky Dolphin" monitoring programme, according to NBC News.
A spokesperson for the agency said GCHQ's work was "carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework”.
This "ensure[s] that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee", the spokesperson added.
The "Squeaky Dolphin" monitoring programme said to have been utilised by British intelligence agencies was not intended to spy on individuals, but it could be done, cyber-security experts told NBC News.
The experts claimed the documents released by Edward Snowden show GCHQ had to have been either physically able to tap the cables carrying the world’s internet traffic or able to use a third party to gain physical access to the massive stream of data.
Once the information has been gathered, intelligence agencies have the ability to extract some user information as well, they added.
US and British intelligence agencies have plotted ways to gather data from Angry Birds and other smartphone apps that "leak" users' personal information onto global networks, the Guardian reported, citing documents obtained from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had tried to exploit "leaky" smartphone apps that could disclose users' locations, age, gender and other personal information, according to the newspaper.
British intelligence agencies have the capacity to monitor social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube by tapping into the cables carrying the world's internet traffic, according to documents obtained by NBC News.
The documents, reportedly taken from the US National Security Agency by whistleblower Edward Snowden, show British spies demonstrated a pilot programme to their US counterparts in 2012.
The programme, called "Squeaky Dolphin", was able to monitor YouTube in real time, collect addresses and some other user information.
According to the “Psychology A New Kind of SIGDEV [Signals Development] presentation, the Government was also able to take part in “broad real-time monitoring of online activity” of URLs “liked” on Facebook, Blogspot/Blogger visits and Twitter.