how the spooks got into bed with Big Tech

When James Bond meets Q in Skyfall, disheveled actor Ben Whishaw teaches 007 a lesson in the world of intelligence procurement.

“I risk that, before my first cup of Earl Gray, I can do more damage to my laptop in pajamas than you can do in a year in the field,” says the fictional intelligence officer.

However, his real-world employer could soon rely on big tech data scientists from the private sector to provide agents with the latest information.

It is reported that Amazon has signed a contract with GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 for its cloud computing arm to carry out big data tasks for the three UK espionage agencies. Skyfall’s conspiracy that a former MI6 agent steal a hard drive containing top secret information would be a thing of the past as espionage goes digital.

According to the Financial Times, the cloud service should store top-secret information and enable spies to securely feed in data from branch offices.

Amazon will also use artificial intelligence (AI) to power tools like speech recognition and translation to filter thousands of hours of interceptions. The deal, signed earlier this year, is valued at up to £ 1 billion over a decade.

Details have been kept under lock and key and there are no plans to make them public. Amazon declined to comment. A GCHQ spokesman said it hadn’t commented on claims about its relationships with technology suppliers.

Security experts say working with a big tech giant could help the GCHQ more efficiently crawl the petabytes of information it gathers through eavesdropping and surveillance.

Prof. Alan Woodward, Cyber ​​Security Specialist at the University of Surrey and former GCHQ advisor, says, “People like Amazon have the technology to keep this data live and online can be done in a matter of hours.

“Actionable information needs to be in a timely manner, so this type of deal makes sense.”

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