Security vendors help covert agencies spy on their own citizens: WikiLeaks

Documents show partnerships between developers and intelligence agencies

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Yesterday WikiLeaks released 287 documents in what it calls The Spy Files, which describes as descriptions of the relationship between national intelligence agencies and the commercial software, security and surveillance companies they hired to provide technology that allows them to secretly listen in on cell phone conversations, text messages, email and other Internet traffic and location data.

Some even use voice-recognition technology to help identify the voices in conversations on which they eavesdrop, sometimes while looking for the opportunity to end some conversations by firing a missile to kill one of the participants.

Nearly all governments spy on their own citizens and on foreigners using surreptitious spyware on computers, cell phones, GPS devices and other modern electronic devices according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said during a panel on espionage and digital security at a conference yesterday in London.

WikiLeaks has released 287 files documenting the relationships among intelligence agencies and monitoring-software developers whose products have been deployed surreptitiously but very, very widely in smartphones and computers, Assange said.

"Who here has a BlackBerry? Who here uses Gmail? Well you are all screwed!" Assange said. "The reality is intelligence contractors are selling right to countries around the world mass surveillance systems for all of those products."

The recently overthrown autocratic Kaddafi regime in Libya was the first government Assange cited, claiming Libya's secret police were able to keep tabs on dissidents living as far away as the U.S., Britain and Finland via spyware.

Democratic countries, wholesale domestic spying

Western governments are at least as accomplished as totalitarian regimes, however he said. British intelligence service MI5 uses voice recognition software in cell phones to identify who is at each end of a call, he charged.

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