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Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an
intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas or general notions that occur in the mind, ...
and
security Security is freedom from, or resilience against, potential Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), phys ...
organisation responsible for providing
signals intelligence Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is list of intelligence gathering disciplines, intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether Communication, communications between people (communications intelligence—abbreviated to COMINT) or from e ...
(SIGINT) and
information assurance#REDIRECT Information assuranceInformation assurance (IA) is the practice of assuring information and managing risks related to the use, processing, storage, and transmission of information. Information assurance includes protection of the integrit ...
(IA) to the
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...
and
armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or para ...
of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. Based at "
The Doughnut The Doughnut is the nickname given to the headquarters of the Government Communications Headquarters Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capa ...
" in the suburbs of
Cheltenham Cheltenham () is a large spa town and borough on the edge of the Cotswolds in the county of Gloucestershire, England. Cheltenham became known as a health and holiday spa town resort following the discovery of mineral springs in 1716, and claims ...

Cheltenham
, GCHQ is the responsibility of the country's
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, commonly known as the foreign secretary, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Developm ...
(Foreign Secretary), but it is not a part of the
Foreign Office Foreign may refer to: Government * Foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It produces content daily on its websit ...
and its Director ranks as a Permanent Secretary. GCHQ was originally established after the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
as the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and was known under that name until 1946. During the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
it was located at
Bletchley Park Bletchley Park is an English country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This allowed ...

Bletchley Park
, where it was responsible for breaking the German
Enigma codes
Enigma codes
. There are two main components of the GCHQ, the Composite Signals Organisation (CSO), which is responsible for gathering information, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is responsible for securing the UK's own communications. The Joint Technical Language Service (JTLS) is a small department and cross-government resource responsible for mainly technical language support and translation and interpreting services across government departments. It is co-located with GCHQ for administrative purposes. In 2013, GCHQ received considerable media attention when the former
National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, ...

National Security Agency
contractor
Edward Snowden Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American former computer intelligence consultant who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligenc ...

Edward Snowden
revealed that the agency was in the process of collecting all online and telephone data in the UK via the
Tempora Tempora is the codeword for a formerly-secret computer system that is used by the British Government Communications Headquarters Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence Intelligence has been def ...

Tempora
programme. Snowden's revelations began a spate of ongoing disclosures of global surveillance. ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'' newspaper was then forced to destroy all files Snowden had given them because of the threats of a lawsuit under the Official Secrets Act.


Structure

GCHQ is led by the Director of GCHQ,
Jeremy Fleming Jeremy Fleming is the head of the British Government Communications Headquarters Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic Logi ...
, and a Corporate Board, made up of executive and non-executive directors. Reporting to the Corporate Board is:(secondary) : *Sigint missions: comprising maths and
cryptanalysis Cryptanalysis (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
, IT and computer systems, linguistics and translation, and the intelligence analysis unit *Enterprise: comprising applied research and emerging technologies, corporate knowledge and information systems, commercial supplier relationships, and
biometrics Biometrics are body measurements and calculations related to human characteristics. Biometrics authentication Authentication (from ''authentikos'', "real, genuine", from αὐθέντης ''authentes'', "author") is the act of proving an ...

biometrics
*Corporate management: enterprise resource planning,
human resources Human resources is the set of people who make up the workforce of an organization An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, - ...

human resources
, internal audit, and architecture *National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).Ferris (2020)


History


Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS)

During the First World War, the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
and
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
had separate signals intelligence agencies,
MI1b MI1 or British ''Military Intelligence, Section 1'' was a department of the British Directorate of Military Intelligence (United Kingdom), Directorate of Military Intelligence, part of the War Office. It was set up during World War I cryptograp ...
and
NID25
NID25
(initially known as Room 40) respectively. In 1919, the Cabinet's Secret Service Committee, chaired by
Lord Curzon George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, (11 January 1859 – 20 March 1925), was styled as Lord Curzon of Kedleston between 1898 and 1911, and as Earl Curzon of Kedleston between 1911 and 1921, was a British Conservative ...
, recommended that a peacetime codebreaking agency should be created, a task which was given to the Director of Naval Intelligence,
Hugh Sinclair Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, ...

Hugh Sinclair
.Johnson, 1997, p. 44 Sinclair merged staff from NID25 and MI1b into the new organisation, which initially consisted of around 25–30 officers and a similar number of clerical staff. It was titled the "Government Code and Cypher School" (GC&CS), a cover-name which was chosen by Victor Forbes of the
Foreign Office Foreign may refer to: Government * Foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It produces content daily on its websit ...
.
Alastair Denniston Commander (Royal Navy), Commander Alexander "Alastair" Guthrie Denniston (1 December 1881 – 1 January 1961) was a Scottish codebreaker in Room 40, deputy head of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and field hockey, hockey player. Den ...
, who had been a member of NID25, was appointed as its operational head. It was initially under the control of the
Admiralty Admiralty usually refers to: * Admiralty (United Kingdom), military department in command of the Royal Navy from 1707 to 1964 *The rank of admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank ...
and located in Watergate House, Adelphi, London. Its public function was "to advise as to the security of codes and cyphers used by all Government departments and to assist in their provision", but also had a secret directive to "study the methods of cypher communications used by foreign powers". GC&CS officially formed on 1 November 1919, and produced its first decrypt prior to that date, on 19 October. Before the Second World War, GC&CS was a relatively small department. By 1922, the main focus of GC&CS was on diplomatic traffic, with "no service traffic ever worth circulating" and so, at the initiative of Lord Curzon, it was transferred from the Admiralty to the
Foreign Office Foreign may refer to: Government * Foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It produces content daily on its websit ...
. GC&CS came under the supervision of
Hugh Sinclair Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, ...

Hugh Sinclair
, who by 1923 was both the Chief of SIS and Director of GC&CS. In 1925, both organisations were co-located on different floors of Broadway Buildings, opposite
St. James's Park St James's Park is a park in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London which forms a core part of Central London. It is the site of the United ...

St. James's Park
. Messages decrypted by GC&CS were distributed in blue-jacketed files that became known as "BJs". In the 1920s, GC&CS was successfully reading Soviet Union diplomatic cyphers. However, in May 1927, during a row over clandestine Soviet support for the
General Strike A general strike (or mass strike) is a strike action in which a substantial proportion of the total labour (economics), labour force in a city, region, or country participates. General strikes are characterised by the participation of workers ...
and the distribution of subversive propaganda, Prime Minister
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and ...
made details from the decrypts public. During the Second World War, GC&CS was based largely at
Bletchley Park Bletchley Park is an English country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This allowed ...

Bletchley Park
, in present-day
Milton Keynes Milton Keynes ( ) is the largest settlement in Buckinghamshire, England, north-west of London. At the 2011 Census, the population of Milton Keynes urban area, its urban area was almost . The River Great Ouse forms its northern boundary; a t ...
, working on understanding the German
Enigma machine The Enigma machine is a cipher In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is ''en ...

Enigma machine
and
Lorenz cipher The Lorenz SZ40, SZ42a and SZ42b were German Rotor machine, rotor stream cipher machines used by the German Army (Wehrmacht), German Army during World War II. They were developed by C. Lorenz AG in Berlin. The model name ''SZ'' was derived from '' ...
s. In 1940, GC&CS was working on the diplomatic codes and ciphers of 26 countries, tackling over 150 diplomatic cryptosystems. Senior staff included
Alastair Denniston Commander (Royal Navy), Commander Alexander "Alastair" Guthrie Denniston (1 December 1881 – 1 January 1961) was a Scottish codebreaker in Room 40, deputy head of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and field hockey, hockey player. Den ...
,
Oliver Strachey Oliver Strachey CBE (3 November 1874 – 14 May 1960), a British civil servant The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elect ...
,
Dilly Knox Alfred Dillwyn "Dilly" Knox, CMG (23 July 1884 – 27 February 1943) was a British classics Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity, and in the Western world The Western world, also known as the West ...
,
John Tiltman Brigadier Brigadier is a military rank, the seniority of which depends on the country. In some countries, it is a senior rank above colonel Colonel (; abbreviated as Col., Col or COL) is a senior military Officer (armed forces), officer ra ...
,
Edward Travis Sir Edward Wilfred Harry Travis (24 September 1888 – 23 April 1956) was a British cryptographer and intelligence officerAn intelligence officer is a person employed by an organization to collect, compile or analyze information (known as intel ...
, Ernst Fetterlein, Josh Cooper,
Donald Michie Donald Michie (pronounced //; 11 November 1923 – 7 July 2007) was a British researcher in artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstractio ...
,
Alan Turing Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such to ...

Alan Turing
,
Gordon Welchman William Gordon Welchman (15 June 1906 – 8 October 1985) was a British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (a ...
,
Joan Clarke Joan Elisabeth Lowther Murray, Member of the Order of the British Empire, MBE (''née'' Clarke; 24 June 1917 – 4 September 1996) was an English cryptanalyst and numismatist best known for her work as a Cryptanalysis, code-breaker at Bletchle ...
,
Max Newman Maxwell Herman Alexander Newman, FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United State ...

Max Newman
, William Tutte, I. J. (Jack) Good,
Peter Calvocoressi Peter John Ambrose Calvocoressi (17 November 1912 – 5 February 2010) was a British lawyer, Liberal politician, historian, and publisher. He served as an intelligence officer at Bletchley Park Bletchley Park is an English country house a ...
and
Hugh Foss Hugh Rose Foss (13 May 1902 – 23 December 1971) was a British cryptanalyst. At Bletchley Park Bletchley Park is an English country house and estate in Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire) that became the principal centre of Allies of World War II, ...
. An outstation in the Far East, the
Far East Combined Bureau The Far East Combined Bureau, an outstation of the British Government Code and Cypher School, was set up in Hong Kong in March 1935, to monitor Japanese, and also Chinese and Russian (Soviet) intelligence and radio traffic. Later it moved to Singap ...
was set up in Hong Kong in 1935 and moved to Singapore in 1939. Subsequently, with the Japanese advance down the Malay Peninsula, the Army and RAF codebreakers went to the
Wireless Experimental Centre The Wireless Experimental Centre (WEC) was one of two overseas outposts of Station X, Bletchley Park, the British signals analysis centre during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a ...
in Delhi, India. The Navy codebreakers in FECB went to
Colombo Colombo ( si, කොළඹ, translit=Koḷam̆ba, ; ta, கொழும்பு, translit=Koḻumpu, ) is the commercial capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction betwe ...

Colombo
, Ceylon, then to
Kilindini Kilindini Harbour is a large, natural deep-water inlet extending inland from Mombasa Mombasa ( , also ) is a coastal city in southeast Kenya along the Indian Ocean. The city is known as the white and blue city in Kenya. It is the country's ...
, near
Mombasa Mombasa ( , also ) is a coastal city in southeastern Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally writ ...

Mombasa
, Kenya.


Post Second World War

GC&CS was renamed the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in June 1946. The organisation was at first based in
Eastcote Eastcote is an area in the London Borough of Hillingdon. It is in northwest Greater London, London and the Historic counties of England, historic county of Middlesex. In the Middle Ages, Eastcote was one of the three areas that made up the pari ...
in northwest London, then in 1951 moved to the outskirts of
Cheltenham Cheltenham () is a large spa town and borough on the edge of the Cotswolds in the county of Gloucestershire, England. Cheltenham became known as a health and holiday spa town resort following the discovery of mineral springs in 1716, and claims ...

Cheltenham
, setting up two sites at
Oakley Oakley may refer to: Places Antarctica *Oakley Glacier United Kingdom *Oakley, Bedfordshire, England *Oakley, Buckinghamshire, England *Oakley, Dorset, England *Oakley, Fife, Scotland *Oakley, Gloucestershire, England *Oakley, Hampshire, Englan ...
and
Benhall Benhall is a village and civil parish in the East Suffolk (district), East Suffolk district of Suffolk, England. Located to the south of Saxmundham, in 2007 its population was estimated to be 560, reducing to 521 at the 2011 Census. Benhall is s ...
. One of the major reasons for selecting Cheltenham was that the town had been the location of the headquarters of the
United States Army Services of Supply The Services of Supply or "SOS" branch of the Army of the USA was created on 28 February 1942 by Executive Order Number 9082 "Reorganizing the Army and the War Department" and War Department Circular No. 59, dated 2 March 1942. Services of Supp ...
for the European Theater during the War, which built up a telecommunications infrastructure in the region to carry out its logistics tasks. Following the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, US and British intelligence have shared information as part of the
UKUSA Agreement The United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement (UKUSA, ) is a multilateral agreement for cooperation in signals intelligence Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is list of intelligence gathering disciplines, intelligence-gathering by ...
. The principal aspect of this is that GCHQ and its US equivalent, the
National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, ...

National Security Agency
(NSA), share technologies, infrastructure and information. GCHQ ran many
signals intelligence Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is list of intelligence gathering disciplines, intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether Communication, communications between people (communications intelligence—abbreviated to COMINT) or from e ...
(SIGINT) monitoring stations abroad. During the early
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
, the remnants of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
provided a global network of ground stations which were a major contribution to the UKUSA Agreement; the US regarded RAF Little Sai Wan in
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
as the most valuable of these. The monitoring stations were largely run by inexpensive
National Service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription is mandatory national service. The term ''national service'' comes from the United Kingdom's National Service (Armed Forces ...
recruits, but when this ended in the early 1960s, the increased cost of civilian employees caused budgetary problems. In 1965 a Foreign Office review found that 11,500 staff were involved in SIGINT collection (8,000 GCHQ staff and 3,500 military personnel), exceeding the size of the
Diplomatic Service Diplomatic service is the body of diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of comm ...
. Reaction to the
Suez War The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression () in the Arab world and Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War; other names include the ''Sinai war'', ''Suez–Sinai war'', ''1956 A ...
led to the eviction of GCHQ from several of its best foreign SIGINT collection sites, including the new Perkar, Ceylon site and
RAF Habbaniya Royal Air Force Station Habbaniya, more commonly known as RAF Habbaniya ( ar, قاعدة الحبانية الجوية), (originally RAF Dhibban), was a Royal Air Force "Through Adversity to the Stars" , colours = ...
, Iraq. The staff largely moved to tented encampments on military bases in Cyprus, which later became the
Sovereign Base Area The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia ( SBA; el, Περιοχές Κυρίαρχων Βάσεων Ακρωτηρίου και Δεκέλιας, ''Periochés Kyríarchon Váseon Akrotiríou ke Dekélias''; tr, Ağrotur ve Dikelya ...
. Duncan Campbell and Mark Hosenball revealed the existence of GCHQ in 1976 in an article for '' Time Out''; as a result, Hosenball was deported from the UK. GCHQ had a very low profile in the media until 1983 when the trial of Geoffrey Prime, a
KGB The KGB ( rus, links=no, Комитет государственной безопасности (КГБ), a=ru-KGB.ogg, p=kəmʲɪˈtʲet ɡəsʊˈdarstvʲɪn(ː)əj bʲɪzɐˈpasnəsʲtʲɪ, Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti), translated ...
mole within it, created considerable media interest.


Trade union disputes

In 1984, GCHQ was the centre of a political row when, in the wake of strikes which affected Sigint collection, the
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...

Conservative
government of
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
prohibited its employees from belonging to a trade union. Following the breakdown of talks and the failure to negotiate a no-strike agreement, it was believed that membership of a union would be in conflict with
national security National security or national defence is the security Security is freedom from, or resilience against, potential Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics ...
. A number of mass national one-day strikes were held to protest this decision, claimed by some as the first step to wider bans on trade unions. Appeals to British Courts and
European Commission of Human Rights European Commission of Human Rights was a special body of the Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic ...
were unsuccessful. The government offered a sum of money to each employee who agreed to give up their union membership. Appeal to the
ILO The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations a ...
resulted in a decision that government's actions were in violation of
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention The Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (1948No 87is an International Labour Organization Convention, and one of eight conventions that form the core of international labour law, as interpreted by the Declarat ...
. A no-strike agreement was eventually negotiated and the ban lifted by the incoming
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 13 ...
government in 1997, with the Government Communications Group of the
Public and Commercial Services Union The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is the sixth largest trade union in the United Kingdom. Most of its members work in UK government departments The departments of the Government of the United Kingdom are the principal units throug ...
(PCS) being formed to represent interested employees at all grades. In 2000, a group of 14 former GCHQ employees, who had been dismissed after refusing to give up their union membership, were offered re-employment, which three of them accepted.


Post Cold War


1990s: Post-Cold War restructuring

The
Intelligence Services Act 1994 The Intelligence Services Act 1994 (c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United K ...
formalised the activities of the intelligence agencies for the first time, defining their purpose, and the British Parliament's
Intelligence and Security Committee The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) is a statutory committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, ...
was given a remit to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the three intelligence agencies. The objectives of GCHQ were defined as working as "in the interests of national security, with particular reference to the defence and foreign policies of Her Majesty's government; in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom; and in support of the prevention and the detection of serious crime". During the introduction of the Intelligence Agency Act in late 1993, the former Prime Minister Jim Callaghan had described GCHQ as a "full-blown bureaucracy", adding that future bodies created to provide oversight of the intelligence agencies should "investigate whether all the functions that GCHQ carries out today are still necessary." In late 1993 civil servant Michael Quinlan advised a deep review of the work of GCHQ following the conclusion of his "Review of Intelligence Requirements and Resources", which had imposed a 3% cut on the agency. The
Chief Secretary to the Treasury The chief secretary to the Treasury (CST) is the third most senior ministerial office in HM Treasury Her Majesty's Treasury (HM Treasury), sometimes referred to as the Exchequer, or more informally the Treasury, is the department of the Gover ...
,
Jonathan Aitken Jonathan William Patrick Aitken (born 30 August 1942) is an Irish-born British former Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom (1974–97), former Cabinet minister an ...
, subsequently held face to face discussions with the intelligence agency directors to assess further savings in the wake of Quinlan's review. Aldrich (2010) suggests that Sir
John Adye Sir John Anthony Adye KCMG (born 24 October 1939) is a former Director of the British signals intelligence Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is list of intelligence gathering disciplines, intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether ...
, the then Director of GCHQ performed badly in meetings with Aitken, leading Aitken to conclude that GCHQ was "suffering from out-of-date methods of management and out-of-date methods for assessing priorities". GCHQ's budget was £850 million in 1993, (£ as of ) compared to £125 million for the Security Service and SIS (MI5 and MI6). In December 1994 the businessman Roger Hurn was commissioned to begin a review of GCHQ, which was concluded in March 1995. Hurn's report recommended a cut of £100  million in GCHQ's budget; such a large reduction had not been suffered by any British intelligence agency since the end of World War II. The J Division of GCHQ, which had collected SIGINT on Russia, disappeared as a result of the cuts. The cuts had been mostly reversed by 2000 in the wake of threats from
violent non-state actor In international relations, violent non-state actors (VNSA), also known as non-state armed actors or non-state armed groups (NSAGs), are individuals and groups that are wholly or partly independent of state government, governments and which threa ...
s, and risks from increased terrorism, organised crime and illegal access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
David Omand Sir David Bruce Omand (born 15 April 1947) is a British former senior civil servant The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed ...
became the Director of GCHQ in 1996, and greatly restructured the agency in the face of new and changing targets and rapid technological change. Omand introduced the concept of "Sinews" (or "SIGINT New Systems") which allowed more flexible working methods, avoiding overlaps in work by creating fourteen domains, each with a well-defined working scope. The tenure of Omand also saw the construction of a modern new headquarters, intended to consolidate the two old sites at Oakley and Benhall into a single, more open-plan work environment. Located on a 176-acre site in Benhall, it would be the largest building constructed for secret intelligence operations outside the United States. Operations at GCHQ's Chung Hom Kok listening station in Hong Kong ended in 1994. GCHQ's Hong Kong operations were extremely important to their relationship with the NSA, who contributed investment and equipment to the station. In anticipation of the transfer of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, the Hong Kong stations operations were moved to
Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station The Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS), an Earth station in Australia is located at Kojarena east of Geraldton Geraldton (often informally abbreviated to Gero) is a coastal city in the Mid West region of the Austral ...
in
Geraldton Geraldton is a coastal city in the Mid West (Western Australia), Mid West region of the Australian state of Western Australia, north of the state capital, Perth. At June 2018, Geraldton had an urban population of 37,648. Estimated resident pop ...
in
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Western Australia
. Operations that used GCHQ's intelligence-gathering capabilities in the 1990s included the monitoring of communications of Iraqi soldiers in the
Gulf War The Gulf War was a war waged by coalition forces The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership t ...
, of
dissident republican Dissident republicans, renegade republicans, anti-Agreement republicans or anti-ceasefire republicans ( ga, poblachtach easaontach) are Irish republicans who do not support the current peace agreements in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ...
terrorists and the
Real IRA The Real Irish Republican Army, or Real IRA (RIRA), is a dissident A dissident is a person who actively challenges an established Political system, political or Organized religion, religious system, doctrine, belief, policy, or institution. In ...
, of the various factions involved in the
Yugoslav Wars The Yugoslav Wars were a series of separate but related Naimark (2003), p. xvii. ethnic conflict A refugee camp for displaced Rwandans in Zaire following the Rwandan genocide of 1994 An ethnic conflict is a conflict between two or more con ...
, and of the criminal Kenneth Noye. In the mid 1990s GCHQ began to assist in the investigation of
cybercrime Cybercrime is a crime that involves a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of op ...
.


2000s: Coping with the Internet

At the end of 2003, GCHQ moved in to its new building. Built on a circular plan around a large central courtyard, it quickly became known as
the Doughnut The Doughnut is the nickname given to the headquarters of the Government Communications Headquarters Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the ca ...
. At the time, it was one of the largest public-sector building projects in Europe, with an estimated cost of £337 million. The new building, which was designed by
Gensler Gensler is a global design and architecture firm. Organized into 16 diverse practice areas covering a broad spectrum of industry sectors, Gensler delivers a range of project types for clients around the world. In 2017, Gensler generated $1.197 b ...
and constructed by
Carillion Carillion plc was a British multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, ...

Carillion
, became the base for all of GCHQ's
Cheltenham Cheltenham () is a large spa town and borough on the edge of the Cotswolds in the county of Gloucestershire, England. Cheltenham became known as a health and holiday spa town resort following the discovery of mineral springs in 1716, and claims ...

Cheltenham
operations. The public spotlight fell on GCHQ in late 2003 and early 2004 following the sacking of Katharine Gun after she leaked to ''
The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum A political spectrum is a system to characterize and classify different in relation to one another. These positions sit upon one ...

The Observer
'' a confidential email from agents at the United States'
National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, ...

National Security Agency
addressed to GCHQ agents about the wiretapping of UN delegates in the run-up to the
2003 Iraq war The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one month, including 26 days of major combat operations, in which a combined forc ...
. GCHQ gains its intelligence by monitoring a wide variety of communications and other electronic signals. For this, a number of stations have been established in the UK and overseas. The listening stations are at Cheltenham itself,
Bude Bude (; kw, Porthbud) is a seaside town A seaside resort is a resort town ski resort, Slovakia Image:Nusa dua beach.jpg, Nusa Dua in Bali, Indonesia A resort town, often called a resort city or resort destination, is an urban area wher ...

Bude
, Scarborough,
Ascension Island Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island, 7°56′ south of the Equator The Equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that divides Earth into the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Southern hemisp ...
, and with the United States at
Menwith Hill Royal Air Force Menwith Hill is a Royal Air Force station "Through Adversity to the Stars" , colours = , colours_label = , march = Royal Air Force March Past , mascot ...
.
Ayios Nikolaos Station Ayios Nikolaos Station (also spelled ''Agios Nikolaos''; el, Άγιος Νικόλαος, lit. "Saint Nicholas") is a British military station and part of in the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia in Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs ...
in Cyprus is run by the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
for GCHQ. In March 2010, GCHQ was criticised by the
Intelligence and Security Committee The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) is a statutory committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, ...
for problems with its IT security practices and failing to meet its targets for work targeted against cyber attacks. As revealed by
Edward Snowden Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American former computer intelligence consultant who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligenc ...

Edward Snowden
in ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sun ...

The Guardian
'', GCHQ spied on foreign politicians visiting the
2009 G-20 London Summit The 2009 G20 London Summit was the second meeting of the G20 heads of government/heads of state, which was held in London on 2 April 2009 at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre to discuss financial market A financial market is a market in which peo ...

2009 G-20 London Summit
by eavesdropping phonecalls and emails and monitoring their computers, and in some cases even ongoing after the summit via
keylogger Keystroke logging, often referred to as keylogging or keyboard capturing, is the action of recording (logging) the keys struck on a keyboard, typically covertly, so that a person using the keyboard is unaware that their actions are being monitored. ...

keylogger
s that had been installed during the summit. According to Edward Snowden, at that time GCHQ had two principal umbrella programs for collecting communications: * "
Mastering the Internet Mastering the Internet (MTI) is a mass surveillance project led by the British communications intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) budgeted at over £1 billion. According to reports in ''The Register'' and ''The Sunday ...
" (MTI) for Internet traffic, which is extracted from fibre-optic cables and can be searched by using the
Tempora Tempora is the codeword for a formerly-secret computer system that is used by the British Government Communications Headquarters Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence Intelligence has been def ...

Tempora
computer system. * "
Global Telecoms Exploitation Global Telecoms Exploitation is reportedly a secret British telephonic mass surveillance programme run by the British signals intelligence and computer security agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Its existence was reveal ...
" (GTE) for telephone traffic. GCHQ has also had access to the US internet monitoring programme
PRISM A prism A prism An optical prism is a transparent optics, optical element with flat, polished surfaces that refraction, refract light. At least one surface must be angled—elements with two parallel surfaces are not prisms. The traditional ge ...
from at least as far back as June 2010. PRISM is said to give the National Security Agency and FBI easy access to the systems of nine of the world's top internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and Skype. From 2013, GCHQ realised that public attitudes to Sigint had changed and its former unquestioned secrecy was no longer appropriate or acceptable. The growing use of the Internet, together with its inherent insecurities, meant that the communications traffic of private citizens were becoming inextricably mixed with those of their targets and openness in the handling of this issue was becoming essential to their credibility as an organisation. The Internet had become a "cyber commons", with its dominance creating a "second age of Sigint". GCHQ transformed itself accordingly, including greatly expanded Public Relations and Legal departments, and adopting public education in cyber security as an important part of its remit.


2010s

In February 2014, ''The Guardian'', based on documents provided by Snowden, revealed that GCHQ had indiscriminately collected 1.8 million private Yahoo webcam images from users across the world. In the same month NBC and
The Intercept ''The Intercept'' is an online publication of First Look Media, an American non-profit company owned by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar. Its editors are Betsy Reed and Jeremy Scahill. It also publishes four podcasts: ''Intercepted'' (hosted b ...
, based on documents released by Snowden, revealed the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group and the Computer Network Exploitation units within GCHQ. Their mission was cyber operations based on "dirty tricks" to shut down enemy communications, discredit, and plant misinformation on enemies. These operations were 5% of all GCHQ operations according to a conference slideshow presented by the GCHQ. Soon after becoming Director of GCHQ in 2014,
Robert Hannigan Robert Peter Hannigan CMG (born 1965) is a cybersecurity specialist who currently serves as a senior executive of BlueVoyant, a US-based cyber security services company, and as an adviser to a number of international companies. He was a senior ...

Robert Hannigan
wrote an article in the ''
Financial Times The ''Financial Times'' (''FT'') is a daily newspaper printed in broadsheet and published digitally that focuses on business and economic Current affairs (news format), current affairs. Based in London, England, the paper is owned by a Japanese ...
'' on the topic of
internet surveillance Computer and network surveillance is the monitoring of computer activity and data stored locally on a computer or data being transferred over computer network A computer network is a set of s sharing resources located on or provided by . T ...
, stating that "however much arge US technology companiesmay dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals" and that GCHQ and its sister agencies "cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector", arguing that most internet users "would be comfortable with a better and more sustainable relationship between the ntelligenceagencies and the tech companies". Since the Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present), 2013 global surveillance disclosures, large US technology companies have improved security and become less co-operative with foreign intelligence agencies, including those of the UK, generally requiring a US court order before disclosing data. However the head of the UK technology industry group techUK rejected these claims, stating that they understood the issues but that disclosure obligations "must be based upon a clear and transparent legal framework and effective oversight rather than, as suggested, a deal between the industry and government". In 2015, documents obtained by ''
The Intercept ''The Intercept'' is an online publication of First Look Media, an American non-profit company owned by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar. Its editors are Betsy Reed and Jeremy Scahill. It also publishes four podcasts: ''Intercepted'' (hosted b ...
'' from US
National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, ...

National Security Agency
whistleblower
Edward Snowden Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American former computer intelligence consultant who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligenc ...

Edward Snowden
revealed that GCHQ had carried out a mass-surveillance operation, codenamed Karma Police (surveillance program), KARMA POLICE, since about 2008.Ryan Gallager
Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users' Online Identities
''The Intercept'' (25 September 2015).
The operation swept up the Internet Protocol address, IP address of Internet users visiting websites, and was established with no public scrutiny or oversight. KARMA POLICE is a powerful spying tool in conjunction with other GCHQ programs because IP addresses could be cross-referenced with other data. The goal of the program, according to the documents, was "either (a) a web browsing profile for every visible user on the internet, or (b) a user profile for every visible website on the internet." In 2015, GCHQ admitted for the first time in court that it conducts computer hacking. In 2017, US Press Secretary Sean Spicer alleged that GCHQ had conducted surveillance on US President Donald Trump, basing the allegation on statements made by a media commentator during a Fox News segment. The US government formally apologised for the allegations and promised they would not be repeated. However, surveillance of Russian agents did pick up Links between Trump associates and Russian officials, contacts made by Trump's campaign team in the run-up to his election, which were passed on to US agencies. On 31 October 2018, GCHQ joined Instagram.


Security mission

As well as a mission to gather intelligence, GCHQ has for a long-time had a corresponding mission to assist in the protection of the British government's own communications. When the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) was created in 1919, its overt task was providing security advice. GC&CS's Security section was located in Mansfield College, Oxford during the Second World War. In April 1946, GC&CS became GCHQ, and the now GCHQ Security section moved from Oxford to join the rest of the organisation at
Eastcote Eastcote is an area in the London Borough of Hillingdon. It is in northwest Greater London, London and the Historic counties of England, historic county of Middlesex. In the Middle Ages, Eastcote was one of the three areas that made up the pari ...
later that year.


LCSA

From 1952 to 1954, the intelligence mission of GCHQ relocated to Cheltenham; the Security section remained at Eastcote, and in March 1954 became a separate, independent organisation: the London Communications Security Agency (LCSA), which in 1958 was renamed to the London Communications-Electronic Security Agency (LCESA). In April 1965, GPO and MOD units merged with LCESA to become the Communications-Electronic Security Department (CESD).


CESG

In October 1969, CESD was merged into GCHQ and becoming Communications-Electronic Security Group (CESG). In 1977 CESG relocated from Eastcote to Cheltenham. CESG continued as the UK National Technical Authority for
information assurance#REDIRECT Information assuranceInformation assurance (IA) is the practice of assuring information and managing risks related to the use, processing, storage, and transmission of information. Information assurance includes protection of the integrit ...
, including cryptography. CESG did not manufacture security equipment, but worked with industry to ensure the availability of suitable products and services, while GCHQ itself funded research into such areas, for example to the Centre for Quantum Computation at Oxford University and the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research at the University of Bristol. In the 21st century, CESG ran a number of assurance schemes such as CHECK, CESG Listed Adviser Scheme, CLAS, Commercial Product Assurance (CPA) and CESG Assisted Products Service (CAPS).


Public key encryption

In late 1969 the concept for public-key encryption was developed and proven by James H. Ellis, who had worked for CESG (and before it, CESD) since 1965. Ellis lacked the number theory expertise necessary to build a workable system. Subsequently, a feasible implementation scheme via an asymmetric key algorithm was invented by another staff member Clifford Cocks, a mathematics graduate. This fact was kept secret until 1997.


NCSC

In 2016, the National Cyber Security Centre was established under GCHQ but located in London, as the UK's authority on cybersecurity. It absorbed and replaced CESG as well as activities that had previously existed outside GCHQ: the Centre for Cyber Assessment (CCA), Computer Emergency Response Team UK (CERT UK) and the cyber-related responsibilities of the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI).


Joint Technical Language Service

The Joint Technical Language Service (JTLS) was established in 1955, drawing on members of the small Ministry of Defence technical language team and others, initially to provide standard English translations for organisational expressions in any foreign language, discover the correct English equivalents of technical terms in foreign languages and discover the correct expansions of abbreviations in any language. The remit of the JTLS has expanded in the ensuing years to cover technical language support and interpreting and translation services across the UK Government and to local public sector services in Gloucestershire and surrounding counties. The JTLS also produces and publishes foreign language working aids under crown copyright and conducts research into machine translation and on-line dictionaries and glossaries. The JTLS is co-located with GCHQ for administrative purposes.


International relationships

GCHQ operates in partnership with equivalent agencies worldwide in a number of bi-lateral and multi-lateral relationships. The principal of these is with the United States (
National Security Agency The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, ...

National Security Agency
), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Australian Signals Directorate) and New Zealand (New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau, Government Communications Security Bureau), through the mechanism of the UK-US Security Agreement, a broad intelligence-sharing agreement encompassing a range of intelligence collection methods. Relationships are alleged to include shared collection methods, such as the system described in the popular media as ECHELON, as well as analysed product.


Legal basis

GCHQ's legal basis is enshrined in the
Intelligence Services Act 1994 The Intelligence Services Act 1994 (c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United K ...
Section 3 as follows: Activities that involve interception of communications are permitted under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; this kind of interception can only be carried out after a warrant has been issued by a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), Secretary of State. The Human Rights Act 1998 requires the intelligence agencies, including GCHQ, to respect citizens' rights as described in the European Convention on Human Rights.


Oversight

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister nominates cross-party Parliament of the United Kingdom, Members of Parliament to an
Intelligence and Security Committee The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) is a statutory committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, ...
. The remit of the Committee includes oversight of intelligence and security activities and reports are made directly to Parliament. Its functions were increased under the Justice and Security Act 2013 to provide for further access and investigatory powers. Judicial oversight of GCHQ's conduct is exercised by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The UK also has an independent Intelligence Services Commissioner and Interception of Communications Commissioner, both of whom are former senior judges. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled in December 2014 that GCHQ does not breach the European Convention of Human Rights, and that its activities are compliant with Articles 8 (right to privacy) and 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention of Human Rights. However, the Tribunal stated in February 2015 that one particular aspect, the data-sharing arrangement that allowed UK Intelligence services to request data from the US surveillance programmes PRISM (surveillance program), Prism and Upstream collection, Upstream, had been in contravention of human rights law prior to this until two paragraphs of additional information, providing details about the procedures and safeguards, were disclosed to the public in December 2014. Furthermore, the IPT ruled that the legislative framework in the United Kingdom does not permit mass surveillance and that while GCHQ collects and analyses data in bulk, it does not practice mass surveillance. This complements independent reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, and a special report made by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament; although several shortcomings and potential improvements to both oversight and the legislative framework were highlighted.


Abuses

Despite the inherent secrecy around much of GCHQ's work, investigations carried out by the UK government after the Snowden disclosures have admitted various abuses by the security services. A report by the
Intelligence and Security Committee The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) is a statutory committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, ...
(ISC) in 2015 revealed that a small number of staff at UK intelligence agencies had been found to misuse their surveillance powers, in one case leading to the dismissal of a member of staff at GCHQ, although there were no laws in place at the time to make these abuses a criminal offence. Later that year, a ruling by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal found that GCHQ acted unlawfully in conducting surveillance on two human rights organisations. The closed hearing found the government in breach of its internal surveillance policies in accessing and retaining the communications of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa. This was only the second time in the IPT's history that it had made a positive determination in favour of applicants after a closed session. At another IPT case in 2015, GCHQ conceded that "from January 2010, the regime for the interception/obtaining, analysis, use, disclosure and destruction of legally privileged material has not been in accordance with the law for the purposes of Article 8(2) of the European convention on human rights and was accordingly unlawful". This admission was made in connection with a case brought against them by Abdelhakim Belhaj, a Libyan opponent of the former Gaddafi regime, and his wife Fatima Bouchard. The couple accused British ministers and officials of participating in their unlawful abduction, kidnapping and removal to Libya in March 2004, while Gaddafi was still in power. On 25 May 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the GCHQ is guilty of violating data privacy rules through their bulk interception of communications, and does not provide sufficient protections for confidential journalistic material because it gathers communications in bulk.


Surveillance of parliamentarians

In 2015 there was a complaint by Green Party of England and Wales, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas that British intelligence services, including GCHQ, had been spying on MPs allegedly "in defiance of laws prohibiting it." Then-Home Secretary, Theresa May, had told Parliament in 2014 that: The Investigatory Powers Tribunal investigated the complaint, and ruled that contrary to the allegation, there was no law that gave the communications of parliament any special protection. The Wilson Doctrine merely acts as a political convention.


Constitutional legal case

A controversial GCHQ case determined the scope of judicial review of prerogative powers (the Crown's residual powers under common law). This was ''Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service'' [1985] AC 374 (often known simply as the "GCHQ case"). In this case, a prerogative Order in Council had been used by the prime minister (who is the Minister for the Civil Service) to ban trade union activities by civil servants working at GCHQ. This order was issued without consultation. The House of Lords had to decide whether this was reviewable by judicial review. It was held that executive action is not immune from judicial review simply because it uses powers derived from common law rather than statute (thus the prerogative is reviewable).


Leadership

The following is a list of the heads and operational heads of GCHQ and GC&CS: *Sir
Hugh Sinclair Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, ...

Hugh Sinclair
Knight Commander of the Bath, KCB (1919 - 1939) (Founder) *
Alastair Denniston Commander (Royal Navy), Commander Alexander "Alastair" Guthrie Denniston (1 December 1881 – 1 January 1961) was a Scottish codebreaker in Room 40, deputy head of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and field hockey, hockey player. Den ...
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, CMG Commander of the Order of the British Empire, CBE (1921 – February 1942) (Operational Head) *Sir
Edward Travis Sir Edward Wilfred Harry Travis (24 September 1888 – 23 April 1956) was a British cryptographer and intelligence officerAn intelligence officer is a person employed by an organization to collect, compile or analyze information (known as intel ...
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, KCMG CBE (February 1942 – 1952) *Sir Eric Malcolm Jones, Eric Jones KCMG Companion of the Order of the Bath, CB Order of the British Empire, CBE (April 1952 – 1960) *Sir Clive Loehnis KCMG (1960–1964) *Sir Leonard James Hooper, Leonard Hooper KCMG CBE (1965–1973) *Sir Arthur Bonsall KCMG CBE (1973–1978) *Sir Brian Tovey, Brian John Maynard Tovey KCMG (1978–1983) *Sir Peter Marychurch KCMG (1983–1989) *Sir John Adye, John Anthony Adye KCMG (1989–1996) *Sir
David Omand Sir David Bruce Omand (born 15 April 1947) is a British former senior civil servant The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed ...
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, GCB (1996 –1997) *Sir Kevin Tebbit Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, KCB CMG (1998) *Sir Francis Richards (diplomat), Francis Richards KCMG Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, CVO Deputy Lieutenant, DL (1998–2003) *Sir David Pepper (intelligence official), David Pepper KCMG (2003–2008) *Sir Iain Lobban KCMG CB (2008–2014) *
Robert Hannigan Robert Peter Hannigan CMG (born 1965) is a cybersecurity specialist who currently serves as a senior executive of BlueVoyant, a US-based cyber security services company, and as an adviser to a number of international companies. He was a senior ...

Robert Hannigan
CMG (2014–2017) *Sir
Jeremy Fleming Jeremy Fleming is the head of the British Government Communications Headquarters Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic Logi ...
KCMG CB (2017–present)


Stations and former stations

The following are stations and former stations that have operated since the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
.


Current

United Kingdom *GCHQ Bude, Cornwall *The Doughnut, GCHQ Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (Headquarters) *GCHQ London *GCHQ Manchester *GCHQ Scarborough, North Yorkshire *RAF Digby, Lincolnshire *RAF Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire Overseas * Cat Hill, Ascension Island, GCHQ Ascension Island * Ayios Nikolaos Station, GCHQ Cyprus


Former

United Kingdom *Brora Y Station, GCHQ Brora, Sutherland *Woodhead Hall, GCHQ Cheadle, Staffordshire *RAF Culmhead, GCHQ Culmhead, Somerset *Hawklaw Y Station, GCHQ Hawklaw, Fife Overseas *RAF Little Sai Wan, GCHQ Hong Kong


GCHQ Certified Training

The GCHQ Certified Training (GCT) scheme was established to certify two main levels of cybersecurity training. There are also degree and masters level courses. These are: * Awareness Level Training: giving an understanding and a foundation in cybersecurity concepts; and * Application Level Training: a more in-depth course The GCT scheme was designed to help organisations find the right training that also met GCHQ's exacting standards. It was designed to assure high-quality cybersecurity training courses where the training provider had also undergone rigorous quality checks. The GCT process is carried out by APMG as the independent certification body. The scheme is part of the National Cyber Security Programme established by the Government to develop knowledge, skills and capability in all aspects of cybersecurity in the, and is based on the Institute of Information Security Professionals, IISP Skills Framework.


In popular culture

The historical drama film ''The Imitation Game'' (2014) featured Benedict Cumberbatch portraying
Alan Turing Alan Mathison Turing (; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such to ...

Alan Turing
's efforts to break the Enigma code while employed by the Government Code and Cypher School. GCHQ have set a number of cryptic online challenges to the public, used to attract interest and for recruitment, starting in late 1999. The response to the 2004 challenge was described as "excellent", and the challenge set in 2015 had over 600,000 attempts. It also published the ''GCHQ puzzle book'' in 2016 which sold more than 300,000 copies, with the proceeds going to charity. A second book was published in October 2018. GCHQ appeared on the ''Doctor Who'' 2019 special "Resolution (Doctor Who), Resolution" where the Dalek variants#Reconnaissance Scout Dalek, Reconnaissance Scout Dalek storms the facility and exterminates the staff in order to use the organisation's resources to summon a Dalek fleet. GCHQ is the setting of the 2020 Sky One sitcom ''Intelligence (British TV series), Intelligence'', featuring David Schwimmer as an incompetent American National Security Agency, NSA officer liaising with GCHQ's Cyber Crimes unit.


See also

GCHQ units: * Joint Operations Cell * National Cyber Security Centre GCHQ specifics: *Capenhurst – said to be home to a GCHQ monitoring site in the 1990s *Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander, Hugh Alexander – head of the cryptanalysis division at GCHQ from 1949 to 1971 *Operation Socialist, a 2010–13 operation in Belgium *Zircon (satellite), Zircon, the 1980s cancelled GCHQ satellite project UK agencies: *British intelligence agencies *Joint Forces Intelligence Group *RAF Intelligence *UK cyber security community Elsewhere: *Signals intelligence by alliances, nations and industries *NSA – equivalent United States organisation


Notes and references


Bibliography

* * * * *


External links

*
Her Majesty's Government Communications Centre

GovCertUK

GCHQ: Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency

BBC: A final look at GCHQ's top secret Oakley site in Cheltenham


{{Portal bar, United Kingdom GCHQ, 1919 establishments in the United Kingdom British intelligence agencies Computer security organizations Cryptography organizations Foreign relations of the United Kingdom Government agencies established in 1919 Organisations based in Cheltenham Signals intelligence agencies Foreign Office during World War II Organizations associated with Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Headquarters in the United Kingdom