Amazon to Host Top Secret Material for UK Spy Agencies—GCHQ, MI5, and MI6

Published · Oct 31, 2021

Amazon struck a deal with the UK’s three spy agencies to provide cloud infrastructure for fast access to data. Another goal of this move is to facilitate the use of artificial intelligence in espionage.

The UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is leading the deal, but the final system will be used by MI5 and MI6 as well. The Department of Defense will also utilize it during operations.

The full details of the project are kept under wraps, but it’s estimated that the deal is valued at £500 million to £1 billion. Supposedly, artificial intelligence will be central to the project. Most likely, its role would be to aid in the analysis of data to streamline its use.

The system will also allow agents to access data from around the world at the quickest speeds possible. It certainly won’t be an ordinary cloud storage service.

Concerns Over Sovereignty

The Financial Times reports that some have voiced concern that a foreign entity will participate in building an infrastructure critical to Britain’s defense and intelligence operations.

While the hosting hardware will be on British soil, Amazon will still have some access needed to properly implement and manage the system. People close to the project have assured that Amazon’s access will be restricted to just those roles.

This speaks to a wider concern in the European region at large. European countries lag behind in cloud implementation. The most prominent cloud providers in the world are predominantly in the United States and China.

France is hoping to spur European cloud tech along with a project known as Bleu. With this, a larger European industry could grow to offer everything from computing to storage. This will lessen the European entities’ need to rely on foreign companies for cloud services.

The UK agencies maintain a positive attitude towards the deal. Given the secrecy, we can expect a curated list of developments to follow.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.