WikiLeaks releases documents on global surveillance industry

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WikiLeaks has stepped up its campaign to expose the global surveillance industry with the release of a new collection of sensitive documents from private intelligence and information technology companies.

The transparency group has published 294 documents from 92 contractor firms providing surveillance and intelligence technology to governments around the world.

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange said “Spy Files 3”, the third tranche of documents released on the subject, was part of his organisation’s “ongoing commitment to shining a light on the secretive mass surveillance industry”.

“The files form a valuable resource for journalists and citizens alike, detailing and explaining how secretive state intelligence agencies are merging with the corporate world in their bid to harvest all human electronic communication,” he said.

The released documents include sensitive sales brochures and presentations used by companies to encourage security, intelligence and police services to acquire surveillance systems and services. Technologies on offer include “lawful interception” systems, mass telecommunications monitoring, network recording, signals and communications intelligence and listening devices.

The WikiLeaks release shows internet spying capabilities now being sold on the intelligence market include detecting encrypted and obfuscated internet usage such as Skype, BitTorrent, VPN, SSH and SSL. The documents also reveal how contractors work with intelligence and police agencies to obtain decryption keys.

The documents detail bulk interception methods for voice, SMS, MMS, email, fax and satellite phone communications. The released documents also show intelligence contractors are selling capabilities to analyse web and mobile interceptions in real-time.

One 2011 document shows how companies such as British-based Gamma Group, German-based Desoma and Swiss-based Dreamlab are working in concert to “create Telecommunications Intelligence Systems for different telecommunications networks to fulfil the customers’ needs” regarding “massive data interception and retention”.

Other documents in the release show evidence of these technologies being used to infect users in Oman with remote-controlled spyware. The FinFly ‘iProxy’ installation by Dreamlab shows how targets are identified and malware is covertly inserted alongside a legitimate download while keeping the intended download functioning as expected. The target identification methods mean that anybody connecting through the same network would be systematically and automatically intercepted and infected as well, even unintended targets.

British-based privacy advocacy organisation Privacy International said the latest WikiLeaks release “further reveals the extent of which Western corporations are equipping repressive regimes and non-democratic governments to target activists, journalists, and human rights defenders”.

“Unequivocally, the newest ‘Spy Files’ documents show that this dark industry only continues to grow, in both technical capability and customer base, all while amassing billions in profits off the suffering of individuals,” Privacy International researcher Kenneth Page said.

“The types of surveillance being marketed by these companies represent some of the most sophisticated technologies available – whether it’s intrusion software, data mining, Trojans, location tracking, deep packet inspection, facial recognition or mass monitoring,” he said.

“And just like an advertisement you would see on television or in a magazine, spy firms are marketing these tools with flashy graphics, sales-speak and guarantees on effectiveness. It’s quite jarring to see such dangerous technologies being presented in such an unthreatening fashion, given that these products represent one of the biggest threats to human rights in the 21st century.”

The global trade of surveillance technology is estimated to be worth up to $US5 billion ($5.5 billion) a year. By comparison, the “traditional” global trade in small arms (excluding the sale of ammunition) was worth $US4 billion a year.

WikiLeaks has also published information on the movement of private intelligence corporate executives and sales personnel, thereby revealing the geographical focus of their activities.

Mr Assange said the WikiLeaks “Counter Intelligence Unit” has been “tracking the trackers”.

“The WikiLeaks Counter Intelligence Unit (WLCIU) operates to defend WikiLeaks’ assets, staff and sources, and, more broadly, to counter threats against investigative journalism and the public’s right to know,” he said. “The WLCIU has collected data on the movements of key players in the surveillance contractor industry, including senior employees of Gamma, Hacking Team and others as they travel through Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and other countries.”

No further details of the new unit have been revealed. However it is a matter of public record that former US intelligence contractor turned whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been associated with WikiLeaks since his travel from Hong Kong to Russia in June.

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Henry Sapiecha

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CIA EMPLOYEES RATS ON USA GOVERNMENT & IS IN HONG KONG HIDEAWAY

EDWARD SNOWDON CIA TURNCOAT HIDING IN HONG KONG

Hong Kong Surveillance

HONG KONG (AP) — The former CIA employee who suddenly burst into headlines around the globe by revealing himself as the source of top-secret leaks about U.S. surveillance programs has just as quickly gone to ground again.

Two days after he checked out of a Hong Kong hotel where he told the Guardian newspaper that he had “no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” Edward Snowden was nowhere to be found Wednesday, despite being the central figure in the biggest news story in the world.

Snowden, in his Sunday interview with the newspaper, had said he wanted to avoid the media spotlight, noting he didn’t want “the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the U.S. government is doing.”

With little new information to report on Snowden or his whereabouts, Hong Kong’s notoriously boisterous newspapers, and others around the world, fixated on his American girlfriend, a dancer who posted partially nude photographs on herself online before she also apparently disappeared.

“Spy on the run: girlfriend ill at ease,” read one Apple Daily headline above a picture of the 28-year-old Lindsay Mills in a provocative pose taken from her blog, which has since gone offline.

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Mills is not believed to be traveling with Snowden, who is thought to still be in Hong Kong.

Apple Daily quoted unidentified sources with the Hong Kong immigration department as saying they had no record of Snowden leaving the territory. A spokesman for the department, speaking on routine condition of anonymity, said it could not confirm the paper’s information because it did not comment on individual cases.

Reporter Ewen MacAskill of Britain’s the Guardian newspaper, who interviewed Snowden for exclusive stories about his revelations, wrote late Tuesday that “it is thought” Snowden was now in a private home in Hong Kong, but offered no details.

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who also interviewed Snowden in Hong Kong, has given a series of interviews about the case, but refused to reveal any information about Snowden’s location or his future plans.

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Despite the uncertainty, Hong Kong supporters of the 29-year-old American have organized a protest march featuring local human rights activists and prominent pro-democracy politicians to pass in front of the U.S. Consulate on Saturday afternoon.

“We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the U.S. government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the U.S. not to prosecute Snowden,” the organizers said in a news release.

Snowden arrived in Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii on May 20, just after taking leave from his National Security Agency contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which has since fired him.

Questions remain about why Snowden chose to go public in Hong Kong, a Chinese autonomous region that maintains a Western-style legal system and freedom of speech, although he said he considered the territory to be relatively free and open. Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the United States, but there are exceptions in cases of political persecution or where there are concerns over cruel or humiliating treatment.

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U.S. authorities have yet to bring charges against Snowden or file an extradition request with Hong Kong. Legal experts say quirks in the Hong Kong legal system could allow Snowden to draw that process out for months or years through appeals.

Snowden might also block extradition altogether by claiming he would be subject to the same harsh treatment as WikiLeaks source Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was held alone for nine months in a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing, drawing complaints from human rights groups and the United Nations’ chief torture investigator.

Snowden could still attempt to leave Hong Kong for another destination, possibly including nearby jurisdictions or countries that do not have extradition treaties with the United States, such as China. Snowden himself has given no indication he is prepared to cooperate with any foreign intelligence service, including China’s.

Outside of Asia, Snowden might also consider seeking asylum in countries like Iceland and Russia. According to the Kommersant Daily newspaper, Moscow has said it might provide asylum.

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Henry Sapiecha

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