The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is one of the three UK Intelligence Agencies and a part of the UK's National Intelligence Machinery. GCHQ works in partnership with the Security Service (also known as MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) to protect the UK's national security interests.
GCHQ's headquarters are in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Most of the c5500 staff work at the impressive state of the art building at Benhall in Cheltenham. The building, often referred to locally as the Doughnut, is a dramatic landmark at the entrance to the spa town of Cheltenham.
GCHQ is described as an "intelligence superpower" rivaling America's National Security Agency. It shares intelligence with other members of the "Five Eyes" electronic surveillance alliance. This alliance is composed of the electronic surveillance agencies of the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. An estimated 850,000 NSA employees and contractors have top secret clearance and thus access to GCHQ's databases.
- "GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications," The Guardian, 21 June 2013.