Today, Wednesday 4 September 2013 at 1600 UTC, WikiLeaks released ‘Spy Files #3’ – 249 documents from 92 global intelligence contractors. These documents reveal how, as the intelligence world has privatised, US, EU and developing world intelligence agencies have rushed into spending millions on next-generation mass surveillance technology to target communities, groups and whole populations. Read the full press release here
This publication doubles the WikiLeaks Spy Files database.
- Rue 89 released an interactive map detailing countries’ press freedom ranking and which surveillance contractors visited. They released an in-depth article alongside it which discusses topics such as spyware in the Arab spring.
- Corpwatch reported on how Turkmenistan and Oman negotiated to buy spy software. The also published a report on how WikiLeaks is sniffing out the salesmen of spy software.
- Bivol reported on Bulgaria’s use of the Finspy software.
- Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on how German companies provide surveillance technologyto autocratic regimes such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
- Página/12 published a rundown of some technologies, including VasTech’s monitoring of satellite phones, Scantarget’s analyses of real-time web activity, and Ipoque’s detection of encrypted protocols.
- L’Espresso reported on Italian company “Hacking Team srl” and their marketing of the “Remote Control System” trojan.
- Pública reported on the metadata which details the movement of surveillance industry executives.
- La Jornada reported on how executives of surveillance companies are active in Mexico.
- RT reported on surveillance company Trovicor’s dealings with autocratic states. The also did a video report on the release.
- FinFisher makes various products that allow government agents (and corporations?) to obtain access to everything on your computer, including your keystrokes. This malware can be installed either using physical intrusion (by inserting a thumb drive into your machine) or through social engineering (a fancy way of saying ‘someone tricks you into clicking on something you shouldn’t click on’). This is pretty scary stuff, in part because it means that your PGP encrypted emails may not be secure.
- A British company called Aappro makes a “body-worn tactical surveillance” cell phone sniffer for “target identification and location.” The tool, known in the trade as an IMSI catcher, tricks cell phones into thinking it is a cell phone tower. Then it secretly identifies anyone in a given geographic area, and can even intercept communications. There are no statutes in the United States that explicitly address technologies like IMSI catchers, although we know that some of the bigger police departments like LAPD use them. Federal agencies like FBI and DHS also have the technology. A private investigator and security expert says that the NYPD used them to create lists of who attended Occupy Wall Street protests.
- The US based BrightPlanet corporation makes tools that enable both government and corporations to “harvest high quality unstructured content from the Deep Web and then mak[e] it accessible for those who need the valuable, untapped resources that lie beneath the Surface Web for deep research and analysis.” One of its tools enables purchasers to track “Organizations or Companies” online: “Stay on top of any company, organization, or group – what they’re doing, what they’re saying and what’s being said about them. Know the biases of all the players by deploying additional analytics to detect their sentiments, relationships, and associations.”
- A Swiss company called NeoSoft AG uses IMSI technology to serve advertisements via text message to phones within a given geographic area.
- Face recognition software that allows users to create watchlists and capture images of faces from video cameras.
- A US corporation called i2 that does business with police departments throughout the country, including in Massachusetts at the state fusion center, offers surveillance analysts products that help sort through and make sense of massive amounts of both public and private information, including social network analysis. “Quickly identify key individuals within target networks with Social Network Analysis,” the company boasts.
- And finally, the spook conference to beat all spook conferences: Intelligence Support Systems, or ISS. Check out which US federal agencies and police departments attended the last conference in Washington DC. You can also see that a number of private corporations attended the event, including Comcast, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T. Those don’t come as a huge surprise. But you know who else was there? Bank of America and Pfizer.