Britain's government approved a U.S. National Security Agency program to collect and store data about the communications of British citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing, the Guardian said Wednesday.

Documents provided by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden include an NSA memo that refers to a 2007 accord with British officials allowing the U.S. spy agency to retain personal information about Britons, the newspaper said.

Prior to that agreement, NSA had been barred from storing cellphone and fax numbers of British citizens who were not the targets of surveillance.

The data is placed in databases accessible by other U.S. intelligence and military elements, according to a joint investigation by the Guardian and Britain's Channel 4 News.

NSA uses the data from Britain for what are known as "pattern of life" analysis, which can entail going beyond a surveillance target to review "the communications of a friend of a friend of a friend," the newspaper said.

The Guardian also cited a 2005 document indicating that NSA contemplated monitoring British citizens without London's blessing. EFE