Skip to main content

BT and Vodafone set up secret Internet spy bases for NSA, raked in millions

” id=”attachment_590520″]bt vodafone made lot money aiding nsa spy agencies

A new report claims that telecommunication companies BT and Vodafone were paid millions of pounds annually for aiding the NSA and British intelligence organizations. According to British technology website The Register, the two companies were the biggest earners of secret payments from spy agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

Aside from the payments, the report also claims that BT and Vodafone Cable’s optical fiber communications network in the UK was installed and paid for by the NSA, GCHQ and an obscure British eavesdropping agency called the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC).

According to leaked documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, BT (which has the ultra-classified codename “Remedy”) and Vodafone Cable (codenamed “Gerontic”) were tapped to run secret teams that install secret connections to store customer data and messages in processing centers. BT and Vodafone, along with other companies hired by the GCHQ, were also said to have installed optical fiber “probes” into the equipment of other companies without their knowledge. According to the report, hired firms like BT and Vodafone have groups of employees within the GCHQ called the “Sensitive Relationship Team” or SRT.

The leaked documents also said that before tapping a new international optical fiber cable, the GCHQ would call in BT engineers to determine where to place the probe and how much the firm should be paid. The data that the cables are either sent to GCHQ in Cheltenham or at its remote processing center at Bude in Cornwall.  

BT and Vodafone deny the allegations

Both BT and Vodafone have earlier denied aiding the GCHQ. In March last year, a BT spokesman said: “Questions relating to national security are for governments, not telecommunications providers. Having said that, we can reassure customers that we comply with the law wherever we operate and do not disclose customer data in any jurisdiction unless legally required to do so.”

A Vodafone spokesman echoed BT’s statement: “Vodafone complies with the law in all of our countries of operation, including – in the case of our European businesses – the EU Privacy Directive and EU Data Retention Directive … Whilst Vodafone must comply with those obligations (as must all operators), Vodafone does not disclose any customer data in any jurisdiction unless legally required to do so. Questions related to national security are a matter for governments not telecommunications operators.”

Secret Internet spy base

Snowden’s leaks also revealed the existence of a British spy base that extracts information from undersea cables in the Middle East. The location of the structure has remained under wraps since it was first publicized in August 2013.

Now, The Register has revealed the site of the base. The structure, which is operated by GCHQ, is said to be in the village of Seeb, which is about 30 miles northwest from the capital city of Muscat in Oman. The base, which first came to light in a report by the Independent, intercepts communication from undersea cables that pass through the Strait of Hormuz onto the Persian Gulf. The Seeb base is said to be codenamed “Circuit” and “Overseas Processing Center 1 (OPC-1). The information about the facility was in 58,000 GCHQ documents that Snowden downloaded.   

The data extracted from the undersea cables is processed by the GCHQ and then shared with operatives from the NSA. According to the report, the Seeb base is just one of three GCHQ sites in Oman. A base near the Strait of Hormuz, codenamed “Timpani,” monitors communications from Iraq. Another site, codenamed Clarinet, is located in the south of Oman and strategically close to Yemen.

Christian Brazil Bautista
Christian Brazil Bautista is an experienced journalist who has been writing about technology and music for the past decade…
Much-desired iPhone feature may not arrive until 2027
The Apple logo on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

We’ve heard a lot in recent years about an iPhone that ditches the Dynamic Island, placing the selfie camera and FaceID technology beneath the glass for a clean, full display. But despite a growing number of Android phones adopting the design, for the iPhone it still seems a ways off.

In 2022, oft-reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that a full display could arrive with next year's iPhone 16, though others in the same field have since suggested that it may take several more iterations of the iPhone before the tech giant is able to make the change.

Read more
This smart ring maker has some wild product plans for 2024
A person holding the Ultrahuman Air ring, showing the sensors.

“We wanted to chat about what's coming in the near future, as well as some new product launches that are happening over the next couple of months, which I think you'll find really interesting. I wanted to give you a sneak peek into what's coming.”

This was how Mohit Kumar, founder and CEO of Ultrahuman, started our conversation when I spoke to him over Zoom. And in doing so, he definitely had my attention. What followed was a fascinating glimpse at how the Ultrahuman Ring Air that I wore recently is only the start for this four-year-old company.
15 new product releases

Read more
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 line prices slashed for the holidays
A Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is held up on top of a desk.

If you're thinking about getting a tablet for a holiday gift -- whether for a loved one or for yourself -- you should check out the discounts that are available for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 line of devices. The previous-generation tablets are still pretty reliable by today's standards, and they offer amazing value because of Samsung's discounts. For their 128GB versions, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is down to $510 from $700 for $190 in savings, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ is down to $630 from $900 for $270 in savings, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is down to $720 from $1,100 for $380 in savings. If you're interested in any of these tablet deals, you're going to have to hurry with your purchase if you want the device to arrive before the rush of the holiday season starts.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 (128GB) -- $510, was $700

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 features an 11-inch touchscreen with a 120Hz refresh rate for super smooth movements on the display, and it's powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with 8GB of RAM that enables fast performance while you launch and use apps. What makes it stand out from other Android tablets is its suite of productivity features, including the customizable Edge Panel, the versatility of the S Pen, and the ability to function as a portable monitor, among others. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 also has an 8,000 mAh battery and the option to expand its storage capacity by up to 1TB through a microSD card.

Read more