Priti Patel Under Pressure to Сlarify UK Spy Agencies' Alleged Cloud Deal With Amazon
12:52 GMT 27.10.2021 (Updated: 18:40 GMT 19.10.2022)
Earlier this week, the Financial Times claimed that Amazon's purported deal with British spy agencies raises a host of sovereignty issues, given that a single US-based company will develop the cloud storage for a vast volume of secret information for the UK intelligence community.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is under pressure from Labour over reports that British spy agencies concluded a classified cloud contract with Amazon Web Services (AWS)
, The Guardian
In a letter to his counterpart in government Damian Hinds seen by the newspaper, Shadow Security Minister Conor McGinn demanded a parliamentary statement from Patel to explain the potential security repercussions of the purported deal.
"These reports are deeply concerning and raise serious questions about the wider security safeguards in place when it comes to the potential risks of outsourcing critical elements of UK national security infrastructure to non-UK-based companies", McGinn underlined.
The Labour politician's letter reportedly contains a bevy of questions, including why it is AWS that was awarded the contract and whether the decision was discussed by the national security council.
McGinn also wondered whether any assessment has been made regarding the alleged contract's possible impact on the UK's cyber resilience and what contingencies Britain may face if Amazon's systems flop.
His letter comes after Gus Hosein, the executive director of the UK-based charity Privacy International, said in an interview with the Financial Times that the reported deal between the British spy agencies and AWS "is yet another worrying public-private partnership, agreed in secret".
"If this contract goes through, Amazon will be positioned as the go-to cloud provider for the world's intelligence agencies. Amazon has to answer for itself which countries' security services it would be prepared to work for", Hosein added.
On Monday, the Financial Times quoted unnamed sources as saying that the US tech giant struck a multimillion dollar deal earlier this year with the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), as well as MI5, and MI6 – to host vast amounts of their data on Amazon's cloud service.
20 September 2021, 11:15 GMT
The sources explained that the new platform would allow the UK spy agencies, as well as other British government bodies, such as the Ministry of Defence, to quickly exchange intelligence information and run cross-database searches in mere hours instead of days and weeks. The cloud storage is also reportedly expected to boost the use of artificial intelligence in espionage.
Downing Street has yet to confirm or deny the reported deal, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's official spokesperson saying that they are "not going to comment on the technology used by intelligence services for both security and commercial sensitivity reasons". Neither GCHQ nor AWS has commented on the deal yet.