Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)

Ongoing news reports in the international have revealed operational details about the Anglophone agencies’ global surveillance of both foreign and domestic nationals.

The reports mostly emanate from a cache of top secret documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which he obtained whilst working for Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest contractors for defense and intelligence in the .

In addition to a trove of U.S. federal documents, Snowden’s cache reportedly contains thousands of Australian, and intelligence files that he had accessed via the exclusive “Five Eyes” .

In June 2013, the first of Snowden’s documents were published simultaneously by The Post and The Guardian, attracting considerable public attention.

The disclosure continued throughout 2013, and a small portion of the estimated full cache of documents was later published by other outlets worldwide, most notably The Times (), the Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Der Spiegel (), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (), L’espresso (), NRC Handelsblad (the ), Dagbladet (Norway), El País (), and Sveriges ().

These reports have shed light on the implications of several secret treaties signed by members of the UKUSA community in their efforts to implement global surveillance.

For example, Der Spiegel revealed how the German Federal Intelligence Service (German: Bundesnachrichtendienst; BND) transfers “massive amounts of intercepted data to the NSA”, while Swedish revealed the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) provided the NSA with data from its cable collection, under a secret treaty signed in 1954 for bilateral cooperation on surveillance.

Other security and intelligence agencies involved in the practice of global surveillance include those in (ASD), Britain (GCHQ), (CSE), Denmark (PET), (DGSE), (BND), (AISE), the (AIVD), Norway (NIS), (CNI), Switzerland (NDB), Singapore (SID) as well as (ISNU), which receives raw, unfiltered data of U.S. citizens that is shared by the NSA.

On June 14, 2013, prosecutors charged Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of property.

In late July 2013, he was granted a one-year temporary asylum by the Russian , contributing to a deterioration of relations.

Towards the end of October 2013, the David Cameron warned The Guardian not to publish any more leaks, or it will receive a DA-Notice.

In November 2013, a criminal investigation of the disclosure was being undertaken by Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service.

In December 2013, The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: “We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we’ve seen.”

The extent to which the reports have responsibly informed the public is disputed.

In January 2014, Obama said that “the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light” and critics such as Sean Wilentz have noted that many of the Snowden documents released do not concern domestic surveillance.

The US & Defense establishment weigh the strategic harm in the period following the disclosures more heavily than their civic public benefit.

In its first assessment of these disclosures, the Pentagon concluded that Snowden committed the biggest “theft” of U.S. secrets in the of the .

Sir David Omand, a former director of GCHQ, described Snowden’s disclosure as the “most catastrophic loss to intelligence ever”.