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Hague faces call over Prism claims

Ministers are facing growing calls to come to the Commons to explain Britain's links with a controversial US internet monitoring programme.

Labour is demanding Foreign Secretary William Hague answer questions from MPs about claims eavesdropping agency GCHQ received material through the secret Prism scheme.

Meanwhile, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has said it expects a full report from GCHQ on the situation "very shortly".

Internet giant Google has also denied any knowledge of the Prism programme, and insisted it does not let the US government directly access its records.

The row escalated after The Guardian said it had seen documents showing that GCHQ had access to the Prism system, set up by America's National Security Agency (NSA), since at least June 2010.

The British agency, based at Cheltenham, was said to have generated 197 intelligence reports through the system in the 12 months to May 2012 - a 137% increase on the previous year.

According to the newspaper, the Prism programme appeared to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to obtain personal material, such as emails, photographs and videos, from internet companies based outside the UK.

GCHQ refused to comment directly on the report, but in a statement it insisted that it operated within a "strict legal and policy framework".

"GCHQ takes its obligations under the law very seriously," the statement said.

"Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, 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."


From Belfast Telegraph