British secret service trusts the AWS cloud

The Government Communications Headquarters, MI5 and MI6, as well as other UK government agencies, including the Ministry of Defense, are moving to AWS. The amount of this contract, concluded over ten years, would exceed one billion euros.

What do the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), MI5 and MI6 have in common? In addition to being the bridgehead for the British secret services, these agencies now use a single cloud. As part of a contract, the amount of which has not been disclosed, AWS will provide its cloud technology to help agents easily share data and quickly search their databases regardless of location. It will also power specialized speech recognition applications to identify and translate words and conversations from recordings that have been intercepted. The amount of this contract could exceed 1,300 million euros during the next ten years.

Interviewed by Financial Times, GCHQ has indicated that it will not discuss its relationship with its technology providers. AWS also declined to comment on the matter. According to Ciaran Martin, former director of the British national cybersecurity center, this contract should allow security services “to access information from very large volumes of data in a few minutes compared to a few weeks or months before.” The goal of British organizations would also be to increase their capabilities for data analysis based on artificial intelligence.

Fears of sovereignty

This is not the first time that intelligence services in Europe have used American technologies. In France, DGSI is one of its best-known clients, which, however, could change to a 100% French Athea offer, born of an alliance between Thales and Atos. In the UK, the agreement with AWS continues to raise concerns regarding the exploitation of data by a non-sovereign company, although AWS would not, in this context, have access to the information processed in the cloud. platform managed by UK government agencies.

“This is a disturbing new public-private partnership, concluded in secret,” said Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International and an expert on technology and human rights. “If this contract is concluded, Amazon will position itself as the provider of cloud services of reference for global intelligence agencies. Amazon must answer for itself to know with which security services of this or that country it would be ready to work ”. However, I’m not sure the American cloud giant is very talkative about his secret dating.

Vince Fernandez

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