Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vodafone collaborates in mass-surveillance

The latest analysis of the Snowden documents shows that Vodafone is actively collaborating with GCHQ's mass-surveillance programmes:

One of the UK's largest communications firms had a leading role in creating the surveillance system exposed by Edward Snowden, it can be revealed.

Cable and Wireless even went as far as providing traffic from a rival foreign communications company, handing information sent by millions of internet users worldwide over to spies.

The firm, which was bought by Vodafone in July 2012, was part of a programme called Mastering the Internet, under which British spies used private companies to help them gather and store swathes of internet traffic; a quarter of which passes through the UK. Top secret documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by Channel 4 News show that GCHQ developed what it called "partnerships" with private companies under codenames. Cable and Wireless was called Gerontic.

Under the moniker, the company carried out tests on equipment used to carry out the surveillance, it came up with suggestions on how the spies could go about tapping its network, and even had a GCHQ employee working full-time within the company.

So Vodafone are quislings who collaborate with spies. But it gets worse. One of the leaked documents shows that Vodafone (as well as REMEDY (British Telecom), PINNAGE (Global Crossing) and LITTLE (Level 3)) rent space on the Southern Cross cable. Why is this relevant?
a 2011 document reveals that Cable and Wireless went further. The company rented space on a cable owned by Indian telecoms company Reliance Communications that stretched from Asia across the Middle East and landed in Porthcurno in Cornwall. Reliance's transatlantic cable lands in Sennen Cove six miles to the north. And the two cables come together at nearby Skewjack Farm. Documents show that in 2011, this allowed Britain's spies to access all traffic from Reliance's main cable and send it to the GCHQ base up the coast in Bude.

Let a GCHQ "partner" onto your cable, and GCHQ gets all your traffic. They don't need to physically tap the cable - they just get their quislings to take it all off at the landing site. So the very people we are trusting to protect the security of our communications are instead betraying us to foreign (and possibly our own) governments.