A little over 5hrs ago, Wikileaks released it’s latest batch of documents that exposes the global spread of digital surveillance as well as an interactive map that show which governments are using these technologies on their own people and how.
The information contained in these documents is pretty telling, and confirms what most people already guessed about government surveillance. There are only 21 countries that are currently listed on the map, but I fully expect that there are many more governments out there yet to be added.
To view what companies are currently using in your country, simply select your country from the list on the left. As I am from the UK I was interested to see what companies were being used, and for what particular purpose
Out of all of the countries listed, and according to the Wikileaks documents, the UK is by far the most prevalent when it comes to surveillance on it’s own people. This isn’t really a surprise though, as we are also one of the most monitored countries in the world.
Here is the map for The US. As you can see the main focus is on Internet Monitoring, which is a scary thought.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see that there is a need for regulated surveillance in certain circumstances and areas, but if what we are seeing here is to be believed, then it’s gone far too far, and into the Orwellian ‘creepy’ area of surveillance.
[sic] International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world. This industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by.
How Mass Surveillance Contractors Share Your Data with the State
In January 2011, the National Security Agency broke ground on a $1.5 billion facility in the Utah desert that is designed to store terabytes of domestic and foreign intelligence data forever and process it for years to come.
Telecommunication companies are forthcoming when it comes to disclosing client information to the authorities – no matter the country. Headlines during August’s unrest in the UK exposed how Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry, offered to help the government identify their clients. RIM has been in similar negotiations to share BlackBerry Messenger data with the governments of India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The fact that this area of business is unregulated at this time is indeed quite scary, as with the fact that the data that is gathered is also being sold.
“The Wikileaks Spy Files reveal the details of which companies are making billions selling sophisticated tracking tools to government buyers, flouting export rules, and turning a blind eye to dictatorial regimes that abuse human rights.”
When money can be made, and let’s not kid ourselves, there’s got to be a lot of money passing hands or there wouldn’t be so many companies involved; then this will continue and attempts to stop it will be lobbied (by the companies) to keep it going.
I have written to The Gamma Group in the UK to request their brochures and how they collect their data for the government and how it is used, so will update the post should I get a response, but I won’t hold my breath.
I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.