A major intelligence agency in the United Kingdom is part of the US government's massive secret internet user spying program PRISM, according to leaked documents obtained by The Guardian. The UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), one of three top intelligence agencies in the country, has been able to view private internet user data since 2010 under the US National Security Agency's (NSA) PRISM program, which allegedly taps into the servers of tech giants including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Yahoo. The existence of PRISM, and the breathtaking amount of internet users' personal information it claims to have access to, were first revealed Thursday night in a leaked PowerPoint file published by The Washington Post and The Guardian.

That document said that PRISM has been going since 2006 and works by giving the NSA "back doors" into the servers of nine major Internet companies, but many of those companies have since denied that they are handing over user data in this particular way. Now The Guardian is adding another twist to the quickly escalating story of government surveillance, pointing out that the UK has also been able to spy on the communications of many web users without their knowledge for the past three years, and that it used this power to generate 197 intelligence reports. A spokesperson for the UK's GCHQ agency skirted the issue of its involvement in the US PRISM program, telling The Guardian it "takes its obligations under the law very seriously."

Coming on the heels of The Guardian's bombshell report on Wednesday that the NSA and FBI were also separately obtaining phone call data from every Verizon customer going back to at least April of this year, the latest report that the UK was involved in the PRISM program raises further questions and concerns about the extent of surveillance of ordinary citizens, who haven't been suspected of any crimes, by democratic governments around the globe.