Report: Verizon, Vodafone and BT gave UK government unlimited access to undersea network cables

PRISM isn't just for US agencies -- last month it was revealed that the UK's Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) has been using the program to collect emails, photos and video content from an assortment of internet providers. Now, a German newspaper claims to know what companies collaborated with the security agency. According to The Gaurdian, Süddeutsche identified Verizon, Vodafone, Global Crossing, Level 3, BT, Interoute and Viatel as firms that participated in Tempora, a program that gave the GCHQ widespread access to the undersea fiber optic cables. The operation was all quite hush-hush, with documents referring to participating outfits by obscure code names: "Dacron" for Verizon, for instance, and "Little" for Level 3.

Parliament has already dismissed the agency's snooping as legal, but documents seen by The Guardian suggest that some telecoms may have illegally given the GCHQ access to other companies' cables without permission. Naturally, the firms involved were quick to dismiss foul play, with representatives from Verizon, Interoute and Vodaphone each assuring The Guardian that it was merely complying with UK law. True enough, probably, but we can't help but wonder if the operators weren't coaxed into cooperation with the promise of cool code-names.