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UK spy agency that violated human rights to launch startup accelerator in Manchester

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Britain’s spy agency GCHQ is found to have violated human rights just three days after announcing an open call for startups to join its accelerator in the Greater Manchester area in 2019.

Ironically, the new GCHQ Engineering Accelerator Program in Manchester is looking for ingenious ideas from startups:

in technologies that can help with the processes it has to ensure its compliance with its legal and policy frameworks.

Just three days before the European Court of Human Rights found that the GCHQ had been in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights on privacy, the UK spy agency announced on September 10 the launch of a new Engineering Accelerator program in the Greater Manchester area, including a new base at an undisclosed location.

According to The Guardian, Britain’s intelligence agency “tapped into cables and communication networks to obtain huge volumes of internet data” in an operation called Tempora.

“The legal challenge was triggered by revelations made by Snowden in 2013, which showed GCHQ was secretly intercepting, processing and storing data about millions of people’s private communications, even when those people were of no intelligence interest,” The Guardian reported on Thursday.

uk spy agency accelerator
Jeremy Fleming

On the new accelerator in Manchester, GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming said in a statement, “I’m pleased to announce our new GCHQ Engineering Accelerator in the heart of Manchester.”

“Building on the success of our Cyber Accelerator, we will help the most innovative and creative tech startups develop cutting-edge products and contribute to the nations’ security. It’s also an amazing opportunity for GCHQ to engage with the vibrant tech community in Manchester ahead of the formal opening of our new office in 2019,” he added.

Read More: UK Intelligence Agency Scouting More Startups For Its Cybersecurity Accelerator

GCHQ Seeks Tech Startups to Help Ensure its Legal Compliances

The GCHQ is plowing forward with its new base and acceleration program in Manchester, which, ironically, is partially aimed at “technologies that can help with the processes we have to ensure our compliance with our legal and policy frameworks,” according to the GCHQ open call.

According to the Manchester Evening News, the GCHQ facility and accelerator will “create hundreds of jobs in the city” and will “work closely with MI5 and MI6 to combat terror threats, including online.”

Read More: MI5, CIA used Samsung Smart TVs to secretly listen-in on conversations: WikiLeaks

In partnership with Wayra, the GCHQ Engineering Accelerator program is looking for ingenious ideas from startups in the following areas of technology:

  • Machine Learning, where it is keen to increase the use of machine learning to categorise and interpret large amounts of information, which is at the core of what drives its mission
  • Policy and Process Automation, where it is interested in technologies that can help with the processes it has to ensure its compliance with its legal and policy frameworks
  • Visualisation of Data Engineering, where it is looking for flexible, efficient and scalable solutions providing visualisation of multi-dimensional datasets
  • Software-Defined Everything that can provide smart solutions to manage and control infrastructure, storage and networks through software
  • Modelling the Science of Analysis, looking at solutions that can model the behaviours behind human decision making, capture the underlying assumptions, and recommend resulting actions

“I am really excited about our partnership with Wayra and our new Accelerator in Manchester,” said Fleming.

“It gives us a chance to tap into that talent and use it to help us with some of our hardest problems. It puts Manchester right at the heart of our mission to keep the UK and our digital homeland safe and secure,” he added.

The Manchester Evening News reported that the three-month pilot program will take place between January and March, 2019.

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is a veteran journalist whose passions include writing about how technology impacts society and Artificial Intelligence. He prefers writing in-depth, interesting features that people actually want to read. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co