Amazon Given Contract to Store Data for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ

The UK’s spy agencies have struck a deal with Amazon to host top-secret data material. GCHQ, which is the British equivalent of the NSA, had supported the procurement of a high-security cloud system.

The system would also be used by MI5 and MI6, the British security service responsible to the Home Office and the foreign intelligence service responsible to the Foreign Office, respectively. Other government departments, such as the Ministry of Defense, would also have access to the system when participating in joint operations. 

The high-security cloud system, signed this year with Amazon’s AWS, is estimated to be worth £500 million to £1 billion over the next decade. 

The contract has already sparked concerns over sovereignty. 

MPs have raised concerns and requested answers over the data deal. When it emerged that the tech giant’s “cloud” computing arm would host the country’s most secret classified material, MPs called on the government to divulge what security protections are in place. 

Sources close to the deal said that the data would be held in Britain, and the American company would not have access to the information that was stored on the cloud platform. MPs said that it’s imperative for appropriate security for a deal of this scale, with such an impact on national security and would cost a huge amount to taxpayers, 

Critics said that parliament, regulators and the public need to know much more about the deal, stating that it’s another worrying public-private partnership. 

MPs have also pointed out that it’s unclear what other nations’ security data would be hosted by Amazon, and that the opaque nature had implications for national security. 

The AWS cloud hosts a huge variety of government departments and public organizations, including the country’s public health service the NHS. MPs have said it is shocking that Amazon “hoovers up” government contracts in the country, and therefore receives far more money from taxpayer-funded contracts than it pays in corporate taxes in the UK.

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