LONDON, June 7 (UPI) -- Britain's eavesdropping agency has used intelligence gathered from Internet companies by the top U.S. spy agency, the Guardian reported Friday.
In an exclusive investigation, the newspaper said GCHQ had generated 197 intelligence reports last year from the system after acquiring access as early as June 2010.
The U.S. program, called PRISM, requires a court order, but the British agency's access appears to allow it to circumvent the usual legal process required to see personal emails, photos and videos from an Internet company outside the United Kingdom.
The British agency's use of the system is set out in documents prepared in April for analysts at the U.S. National Security Agency, which created PRISM.
The system allows the NSA easy access to the world's largest Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Skype.
The NSA documents say reports generated by GCHQ last year represented a 137 percent increase from the previous years. The reports are passed on to the British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6.
GCHQ insisted in a statement it "takes its obligations under the law very seriously" and its work is "carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework."