The NSA has been collecting phone, internet, and email records on UK citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing, and storing them in databases that the rest of America's intelligence and military services can access—and British intelligence officials signed off on all of it, a newly leaked memo reveals. The 2007 memo, the latest Edward Snowden document published by the Guardian, states that UK officials have given the NSA the go-ahead to "unmask UK contact identifiers" in anything that it "incidentally collects."
Britain and the US are part of the "Five-Eyes" intelligence alliance, along with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Member nations are supposed to "minimize" (strip out) any data they collect on each others' citizens. The memo indicates that Britain waived that requirement, but a separate draft memo indicates that the NSA had a procedure for secretly spying on Five-Eyes nations even if they hadn't given them permission. The information was then used to run "pattern of life" analyses, looking at people up to three "hops" (degrees of separation) removed from a target. A typical Facebook user has more than 5 million people within three "hops" of them. For much more, see the full story. (Read more Edward Snowden stories.)