Friday, December 02, 2011

The Spy Files

WikiLeaks has done it again, with a dump this morning of The Spy Files, a collection of information on the global interception and surveillance industry:

International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world. This industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by.
The core business of these companies - companies like NZ's own Endace and Security Software International - is democracy suppression and supporting tyrants. Their core customers are murderous regimes like Egypt, Syria, Libya, who use the data to snatch and torture political opponents and human rights activists, and the US, which uses it to randomly bomb people. But its not just about exporting human rights abuse. Our own governments use these technologies against us:
Western companies are also selling a vast range of mass surveillance equipment to Western intelligence agencies. In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market.
This technology is turning the UK (to pick the most obvious example) into an Orwellian surveillance state, with a CCTV camera on every corner, every journey monitored by ANPR, every cellphone tracked. We need to be careful not to let it happen here.

The leak has a dedicated site, and in addition there is commentary and analysis on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and ONWI. Read it, then start thinking about how we can shut down this industry in New Zealand.