Efforts targeted Turkey, South Africa, and Russia; represent cooperation in U.S., UK Orwellian efforts

The European Union had harsh words for the U.S. Attorney General last week after details of a pair of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spying programs -- one of which targeted foreigners -- leaked out.  However, fresh reports from the same man that leaked those details -- former NSA IT administrator Edward Snowden -- indicate that at least one EU nation engaged in similar tactics back in 2009.

I. U.S., UK Use "Big Brother" Spying on G20 Rivals

According to the report, at a 2009 summit of the G20 (the term for the world's 20 wealthiest nations), held in London, UK, foreign politicians and officials were reportedly tricked into using internet cafes that were monitored by British agents who intercepted and read official emails.  UK intelligence officials also reportedly wiretapped most of the attendees, potentially gaining access to sensitive state secrets.

Recent reports have made it clear that "Big Brother" is spying on 99 percent of the American publictracking their locations on a daily basis.  However, the latest reports illustrate another aspect in this modern Orwellian era -- Big Brother spying on law-abiding foreign guests.

GCHQ spying
GCHQ[Image Source: Guardian]

With its unprecedented network of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in London and other major cities, Britain has oft faced accusations of its own regarding Orwellian monitoring.  Now it appears that it engaged in the same kinds of deeper data harvesting techniques that the U.S. uses on alleged "terrorists", in an even less justifiable context -- to spy on rival nations.

The NSA reportedly participated in the scheme, which was masterminded by then UK prime minister (PM) Gordon Brown and his spy agencies -- MI6 (the equivalent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain's NSA counterpart.

II. Russia, Turkey, and South Africa Targeted

The report on the spying was published in the UK newspaper Guardian, based on Mr. Snowden's whistleblowing leaks.  The site details the following schemes to steal information from G20 attendees:
  • Setting up internet cafes where they used an email interception programme and key-logging software to spy on delegates' use of computers;
  • Penetrating the security on delegates' BlackBerrys to monitor their email messages and phone calls;
  • Supplying 45 analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit;
  • Targeting the Turkish finance minister and possibly 15 others in his party; Receiving reports from an NSA attempt to eavesdrop on the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow.
Ultimately, the net goal of the scheme was to target certain emerging powers like South Africa and Turkey, as well as perennial rivals like Russia.  A briefing in the leaked cache of documents states, "The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG's desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it."

Britain's GCHQ reportedly spied on leaders' VoIP calls. [Image Source: Duncan Campbell]

The NSA reportedly was encamped in Menwith Hill, a suburb of North Yorkshire.  It reportedly focused its efforts on wiretapping the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian delegates.

A leaked internal memo praised the efforts of the GCHQ spies in disrupting the G20, commenting:

Thank you very much for getting the application ready for the G20 finance meeting last weekend … The call records activity pilot was very successful and was well received as a current indicator of delegate activity

It proved useful to note which nation delegation was active during the moments before, during and after the summit. All in all, a very successful weekend with the delegation telephony plot.

Perhaps most outlandishly, the GCHQ effort reportedly even tapped VoIP video calls via the aforementioned use of compromised networks.  The GCHQ reportedly maintained a 15 m (45 feet) long wall of live video feeds of various calls, which were analyzed in real-time by intelligence experts.  An internal document bragged, "For the first time, analysts had a live picture of who was talking to who that updated constantly and automatically."

III. G8 Visitors fear for Their Security

The leak comes at an inopportune time, as the G8 is scheduled to meet again on Monday in Britain.  

Aside from concerns of the other members of the G8 (besides the UK and U.S.) there are major concerns for G8 "observer states" like Turkey (which are not currently part of the G8, but have this interim distinction as they're a G20 member).

Turkey's Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) is among the alleged spying targets who is demanding answers from the U.S. and UK intelligence officials. [Image Source: AFP]

Foreign leaders are demanding answers.

So far, the UK's GCHQ and PM have responded much like the Obama administration initially did -- with silence.

Source: Guardian UK

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Most Popular Articles

Copyright 2018 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki