Byline: Tom McTague
BRITISH spies have worked out how to bypass online security defences and get access to people's emails and personal information.
Cyber spooks cracked the encryption codes used by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft, according to leaked documents.
It throws into question the safety of everyday internet transactions - including online shopping, banking, medical records and personal emails used by millions of families in Britain.
British and American intelligence insist the snooping programmes are vital in the fight against terror.
But security experts dismissed the claim, pointing out that the privacy of ordinary people - not just criminals and terrorists - is being invaded.
There are also fears that now the information is available, it could be hijacked by others and used for criminal and malicious purposes.
The revelations came in documents leaked by fugitive American whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
They say experts at the UK's top-secret GCHQ spy centre in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, have spent the last three years trying to crack the codes.
The American National Security Service (NSA) have been doing it for a decade.
By last year, GCHQ had developed "new access opportunities" into Google's systems - raising fears over the secrecy of people's Google mail email accounts. …