Conflict & Justice

Questions Raised About Whether Britain's Security Agency has Used Prism to Get Around the UK's Legal System

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The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in parliament denying that London uses the U.S. National Security Agency to spy on British citizens. (Photo: BBC TV screen shot)

The debate over the US government's surveillance programs is going global.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

The revelation that the US National Security Agency is collecting data on foreign communications is raising questions in many nations about whether that violates the privacy of citizens there.

In Britain, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has tried to reassure lawmakers in Parliament that the American surveillance programs, like "Prism," do not encroach on UK privacy laws.

"The UK's intelligence agency, GCHQ, has an incredibly close relationship with the NSA," says the BBC's security correspondent, Gordon Corera.

The question, says Corera, was "whether GCHQ had used Prism to get around the UK's legal system which imposes strict controls over when and how information can be accessed."

"The US says Prism doesn't spy on American citizens, but of course it could spy on British citizens."

Both governments deny the accusations, although the British have admitted making 197 requests for information from Prism in a single 12-month period.

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