Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spy Files: New WikiLeaks docs expose secretive, unruly surveillance industry

The growing surveillance industry complex is providing governments with increasingly sophisticated spying software to track and control their citizens, the latest documents obtained by the pro-transparency group, WikiLeaks reveal.
A trove of documents, outlining the activities of dozens of companies operating in the ever-expanding electronic snooping industry, were made available by the pro-transparency group on Wednesday.
Lawful interception’, mass monitoring, network recording, signals and communication intelligence, and tactical interception devices were among the services and products provided by a litany of Western based firms, as outlined in hundreds of pages of documents covering trade brochures, internal memos, and invoices. 
"WikiLeaks' Spy Files #3 is part of our ongoing commitment to shining a light on the secretive mass surveillance industry. This publication doubles the WikiLeaks Spy Files database,” the accompanying press release cites Julian Assange. “The WikiLeaks Spy 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." 
One 2011 document showed how companies such as UK-based Gamma Group, German-based Desoma and Swiss-based Dreamlab are working in concert to “create Telecommunications Intelligence Systems for different telecommunications networks to fulfill the customers’ needs” regarding “massive data interception and retention.”
In March, Gamma International, which is a subsidiary of Gamma group, made Reporters Without Borders 'Corporate Enemies of the Internet' list for 2013, which singled out five “digital mercenaries” who sell their surveillance technology to authoritarian regimes.
The firm’s FinFisher Suite (which includes Trojans to infect PCs, mobile phones, other consumer electronics and servers, as well as technical consulting), is considered to be one of the most sophisticated in the world. During the search of an Egyptian intelligence agency office in 2011, human rights activists found a contract proposal from Gamma International to sell FinFisher to Egypt.
Bill Marczak, a computer science doctoral candidate at the University of California, helped investigate the use of FinFisher spyware against activists and journalists in Bahrain in 2012, as well as in other states.
We don’t have any sort of contracts, so that we could see financial dealings between companies and these governments. The only indications that we have as to where the spyware has been used are based on the research. In cases that we’ve seen the spyware has been targeted against activists and journalists in a particular country. We’ve been scanning the internet looking for this technology. So we found, as I said, spywares in Bahrain. We saw it being targeted against Bahraini journalists and activists last year. We’ve also found servers for the spyware in a number of other countries, such as Turkmenistan, Qatar, Ethiopia,”Marczak told RT.
RT was the only Russian broadcaster that collaborated with WikiLeaks in this investigation, which also brought into the spotlight other companies including Cobham, Amees, Digital Barriers, ETL group, UTIMACO, Telesoft Technologies and Trovicor.
Trovicor, incidentally, also features among Reporters Without Borders “digital mercenaries.” The firm, whose monitoring centers are capable of intercepting phone calls, text messages, voice over IP calls (like Skype) and Internet traffic, has also been accused by of helping Bahrain imprison and torture activists and journalists.......