July 17, 2013 / 10:24 AM / 7 years ago

UK spy agency's use of U.S. data was legal: parliament

Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England June 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s electronic surveillance agency did not circumvent the law by using data gathered by a clandestine U.S. spy program called PRISM, the British parliament said on Wednesday.

Former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of PRISM last month, lifting the lid on what he said was a vast surveillance system that vacuumed up emails and phone data - which leaked documents showed were sometimes handed over to Britain’s security services.

Parliament’s intelligence and security committee launched an investigation into allegations Britain’s GCHQ surveillance agency circumvented British laws protecting the privacy of communications by accessing data from the U.S. program.

“From the evidence we have seen, we have concluded that this is unfounded,” said the committee.

A thorough investigation had shown the reports GCHQ compiled using U.S. intelligence were put together legally, it said. The agency possessed a warrant for interception signed by a government minister each time it asked for information from the United States, it added.

However, the committee said it would be “proper” to study whether the laws governing electronic eavesdropping by spy agencies were strong enough.

Reporting By Andrew Osborn and Peter Griffiths; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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