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British Spy Agency Goes Live on Twitter

FILE - Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fiber-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England June 23, 2013. On Monday, with a simple "Hello, world," the secretive agency joined the Twittersphere.

Britain's secret eavesdropping agency is now active on Twitter.

By tweeting the simple words "Hello, world," the phrase commonly used by students learning to write computer coding programs, GCHQ became the first of Britain's spy agencies to join the social networking service.

The Government Communications Headquarters is trying to become more transparent after fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents in 2013 revealing that GCHQ, along with some U.S. intelligence agencies, were collecting large amounts of data.

The agencies have said their activities are needed to combat terrorism and protect citizens from cybercrimes.

An unnamed GCHQ spokesman said "It's a big step for the organization as we become more open about the work we do to keep Britain safe. We want GCHQ to be more accessible to help the public understand more about our work."

GCHQ is following a number of Twitter accounts, including those created by government, law enforcement and royal accounts. It is also following the official account of James Bond, the fictional British Secret Service agent created by writer Ian Fleming.

The U.S. National Security Agency, active in the Twittersphere since December 2013, immediately sent a “welcome” tweet to its British counterpart.