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

Documents show partnerships between developers and intelligence agencies

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Most make the relationships as simple as possible: Phone manufacturers "are forthcoming when it comes to disclosing information to the authorities – no matter what the country."

Research in Motion, for example made offers to help identify users of its phones to the governments of India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates as well as major Western countries.

The range of spyware, malware and monitoring of various governments is so broad in both technological and geographic scope that WikiLeaks presented the data not only in documents, but as a map that allows readers to scan which vendors were involved in which kinds of monitoring in which countries.

Cisco Systems, for example, is listed as helping with both computer and cell-phone monitoring. Nuance Technology – maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software – is listed as helping with cell-phone and speech analysis.

Of the six categories of monitoring – Internet, cell phone, trojan/malware-based, speech analysis, SMS and GPS tracking – the U.S. is one of very few companies represented in all but one.

The single method of monitoring the U.S. has not been documented to have used? Trojan/Malware-based spyware – a technique that lists only good, solid, democratic Western countries among its documented users: France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands and the U.K.

All this is, to say the least, disturbing. It's a clear betrayal of our trust in government, in our own vendors and the assumption of even the most cynical that if a government will spy on citizens no matter what is done to prevent it, at least the spying should be done on those suspected of wrongdoing.

If nothing else, that would be more efficient than just scooping up every byte of data they can reach and hope to find something useful in it later.

That's just a waste of resources.

However, neither the gross betrayal of intelligence agencies spying on their own citizens or the gross inefficiency of doing so without narrowing the target list to actual suspects may get the kind of attention and criticism they deserve today.

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