The GCHQ set up a complex system to spy on all members, including allies
It's not just the NSA that has been overstepping its boundaries. The GCHQ, NSA's British equivalent, apparently spied on participants in the 2009 G20 summit in London, including on the country's allies.Of course, everyone expects some spying at these events, but the GCHQ put together several ways of capturing as much data as possible from everyone involved.
For example, Internet cafes which used keyloggers and email interception software were set up for participants.
The spy agency also used a dedicated tool to hack into the BlackBerries so many politicians and diplomats love.
The GCHQ also kept track of who was calling whom during the conference, and used that data to get a picture of how negotiations were going.
The Turkish finance minister and his party were particularly targeted by the spies. Finally, the GCHQ also got access to reports from the NSA, which was trying to spy on then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was using a satellite phone to call Moscow.
A few weeks ago, NSA contractor Edward Snowden walked out with thousands of secret documents, on a thumb drive apparently, and of those plenty are newsworthy.
The Guardian has now revealed a third document from the stash, again a PowerPoint slide, which describes GCHQ's most recent success and methods.
From the looks of it, the GCHQ didn't break any laws in its spying. And this is the type of operation that everyone expects spy agencies are doing anyway.
But the revelation may cause some problems for British diplomacy, especially with its allies. What's more, spying on your guests is probably not the greatest way to make friends. It wasn't a one-time thing either.
Still, it's reasonable to expect that all the other spy agencies are doing exactly the same thing for their countries. The timing of the report is spot-on though, as the UK is now hosting a G8 summit.