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Guardian newspaper: UK security agency has spy program; shares data with NSA

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By CNN Staff LONDON (CNN) The Guardian:

Britain's equivalent to the U.S. National Security Agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, has tapped into many of the world's key international fiber optic cables and is routinely downloading and analyzing vast quantities of Internet and phone traffic, sharing the data with the NSA, The Guardian newspaper reported Friday.

The scope of the surveillance dragnet described in the article is enormous.

The newspaper says the report, like many previous ones, is based on the Guardian's reading of documents provided by former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden, who admitted leaking documents this month detailing government surveillance programs.

Unlike some previous reports, the paper has not published the full documents on which the story was based.

A spokesman for the British agency, known as GCHQ, issued a statement saying that in line with long-standing practice, it does not comment on intelligence matters.

"It is worth pointing out that GCHQ takes its obligations under the law very seriously," the statement read. "Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee."

The prime minister's office at 10 Downing Street also gave a statement saying only, "We don't comment on intelligence matters."

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