The latest Snowden papers reveal that the German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain's GCHQ. Bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies.
The UK’s GCHQ has a leading role in telling European spooks how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance power of intelligence agencies. It is hugely ironic then that the German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June.
The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, suggested to Congress last week that European governments' professed outrage at the reports was at least partly hypocritical.