WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has popped up in London to reveal shady, industrial-scale spying by governments on their citizens. Intelligence contractors are targeting smartphones and web-based email to invade our privacy on a mass scale, the whistle-blowing organization warns. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers search for the "reset to factory settings" button.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Ladies Lounging With Laptops...
Jeremy Kirk reports:
Wikileaks...released a broad study of the brisk global trade in surveillance products, which [founder Julian] Assange claimed exposes a risk to...privacy. ... [T]he study, [of] 160 companies in 25 countries, was undertaken as part of an obligation to sources for the whistle-blowing website.
...[T]errorist attacks...have proved to be a license for European countries, the US, Australia, South Africa and others to develop "spying systems. ... Who here has an iPhone?" Assange asked. ... "Who here has a Blackberry? Who here uses Gmail? Well you are all screwed. The reality is intelligence contractors are selling...mass surveillance systems for all of those."
Zack Whittaker adds:
Speaking at City University in London, he said that the publication...is intended to be a mass attack on the mass surveillance industry...[which] will lead society to a totalitarian surveillance state.
...Wikileaks...highlight[ed] how dictators and democracies alike can procure this spying system technology. ... In one case, a subsidiary of Nokia Siemens...supplied the government of Bahrain technology that enabled the tracking of human rights activists. ... U.S.-based company SS8, ... Hacking Team in Italy and Vupen in France, are all said to manufacture Trojan[s]...that can hijack computers and phones. ... [C]ompanies like Czech Republic-based Phoenexia collaborate with military units to create speech analysis tools.
Julian Assange blogs thuswise:
It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but...mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, including for political opponents are a reality. ... Wikileaks is shining a light on this secret industry that has boomed since September 11.
[T]he Spy Files project is ongoing and further information will be released this week and into next year. ... In January 2011, the [NSA] broke ground on a $1.5 billion facility in the Utah desert...to store terabytes of domestic and foreign intelligence data...and process it for years to come.
...Across the world...contractors are helping intelligence agencies spy on individuals...on an industrial scale. [We] reveal the details of which companies are making billions...flouting export rules, and turning a blind eye to dictatorial regimes.
As usual, Wikileaks isn't operating alone; Stan Schroeder outlines the main collaborators:
For this project, WikiLeaks teamed up with Bugged Planet and Privacy International, [and] media organizations...including the German ARD, UKs Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Washington Post.
...The documents...[include] Investigation Instruments, Lawful Interception Overview and ZEBRA: Strategic Surveillance of all Communication.
But John C. Dvorak is his usual cranky self:
I'm not sure this qualifies as actual news.
My question is this: Why would any popular democratic government risk angering the public [like this]. ... It turns the entire populace into a target...[if] the government snoops on as many people as it can in hopes of stumbling upon...crime. ... [V]ery little crime is discovered but plenty of interesting inside information is turned up.
...Wikileaks is snooping on the snoopers. I'm sure someone is snooping on themsnoopers who snoop on snoopers being snooped on.
Ladies Lounging With Laptops
[hat tip: Tracy Mayor]
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: email@example.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.