After Fiasco in US, Amazon Reportedly Signs Contract for Cloud Service With UK Intelligence Agencies

© AFP 2023 / DENIS CHARLETIn this photograph taken on November 18, 2020 in Lille, a person poses with a smartphone showing an Amazon logo, in front of a computer screen displaying the home page of Amazon France sales website.
In this photograph taken on November 18, 2020 in Lille, a person poses with a smartphone showing an Amazon logo, in front of a computer screen displaying the home page of Amazon France sales website. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.10.2021
After failing to outbid Microsoft in a tender to build a massive cloud storage for the Pentagon (but succeeding in subsequently stripping its competitor of the said contract), Jeff Bezos' company apparently switched its gaze to the British market.
US tech giant Amazon struck a multimillion deal in 2021 with the British spy agencies - Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), MI5, and MI6 – to host vast amounts of their data on its AWS cloud service, the Financial Times has reported citing four anonymous sources. The deal is estimated to cost between 500 million and one billion pounds ($688 million to $1.38 billion) over the next decade, but its details are to be kept secret, the newspaper said.
The new platform will allow the said spy agencies, as well as other UK government bodies, such as the Ministry of Defence, to quickly exchange information, intelligence, run cross-database searches in mere hours instead of days and weeks, the FT's sources said. The cloud storage is also reportedly expected to boost the use of artificial intelligence in espionage.
Amazon's AWS cloud service declined to comment on the reported deal for the FT, while GCHQ, which championed its signing, responded that it would not discuss its business relationships with technology suppliers.
The newspaper indicated that the deal raises sovereignty issues since a single US-based company will be developing the cloud storage for a vast volume of classified information for the UK intelligence community. However, the sources told the FT that all the data will be physically kept on UK soil and Amazon will not have access to it.
The reported contract follows Amazon's failure to secure a lucrative deal with the Pentagon to build the cloud infrastructure for its JEDI project – a cloud platform for instant data exchange between intelligence, military, and other government bodies and agencies. Following several rounds, Amazon lost the high-value bid to Microsoft.
This March 27, 2008, file photo, shows the Pentagon in Washington. The Pentagon said Tuesday, July 6, 2021, that it is canceling a cloud-computing contract with Microsoft that could eventually have been worth $10 billion and will instead pursue a deal with both Microsoft and Amazon. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.07.2021
JEDI is Dead, All Hail New JEDI: Pentagon Kills Its Cloud Computing Project Only to Start New One
However, Jeff Bezos' company did not let the situation go, filing a lawsuit that challenged the choice on the grounds that former US President Donald Trump visibly favoured Microsoft over Amazon. The allegation was based on Trump's criticism of Bezos, who owns the newspaper The Washington Post that wrote critical articles about the former president.
In the end, under the pressure of lawsuits, the Pentagon scrapped the JEDI project for good announcing that a new more ambitious project with different requirements will be launched in its place. The exact start date for a new bidding process is yet to be determined, but the Pentagon has already hinted that the list of companies allowed to participate will be limited due to the new project's high standards and requirements, which most companies won't be able to meet anyway.
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