June 17, 2014 9:45 am

UK spies bending rules to intercept Facebook, Google traffic

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LONDON – Privacy groups say Britain’s electronic spy agency is using loosely defined rules to intercept online communications between Britons who use U.S.-based platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.

A document by Charles Farr, Britain’s top counterterrorism official, says data sent on those services is classed as “external” rather than “internal” communications because the companies are based outside Britain.

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Groups including Privacy International published the document Tuesday. It was written in response to a legal action by civil liberties groups seeking to curb cyber-spying.

Britain’s electronic intelligence agency, GCHQ, has broad powers to intercept communications outside the country, but needs a warrant to monitor British communications.

In the document, Farr says some internal communications are intercepted under the external rules, but they “cannot be read, looked at or listened to.”

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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