Feeds

Assange: 'iPhone, BlackBerry, Gmail users - you're all screwed'

Whistle blown on mass surveillance industry

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Surveillance companies can use your iPhone to take photos of you and your surroundings without your knowledge, said a representative from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at a panel chaired by Julian Assange™ today.

Companies also sell products that will let them change the messages you write, track your location and nick your email contacts, claimed speakers on the panel that included representatives from Privacy International and the aforementioned bureau.

The privacy campaigners, speaking in London, pulled out some of the most sensational revelations in the 287 documents about the international surveillance industry published today by WikiLeaks (but you read it here first). The documents cover a total of 160 companies in 25 countries.

"Who here has an iPhone, who has a BlackBerry, who uses Gmail?" Assange asked. "Well you're all screwed," he continued, "the reality is that intelligence operations are selling right now mass surveillance systems for all those products".

Speaking on the panel, Pratap Chatterjee of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (which works out of City University, but is an independent organisation) said that your phone could be used to record and send information about you even when it is in stand-by mode. That data included location, recordings of your conversations and even photographs. This spy software could run on iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows mobile kit.

Stefania Maurizi, a journalist from Italy's weekly news magazine L'Espresso, showed documents that suggested that software products could not only read emails and text messages sent from spied-on phones, but could actually fake new ones or alter the text of messages sent.

As The Reg has already discussed, all these software products are commercially available, and sold seemingly without any regulation.

Maurizi and N Ram, editor-in-chief of India's The Hindu newspaper (speaking over a Skype connection) said that they were particularly worried by the lack of a legal framework and the absence of checks and balances in the surveillance system.

Steven Murdoch of Cambridge Security group said such software was being made by British companies including ones based in Surrey and Oxford.

He added that even lawful interception was no longer targeted and backed up by suspicions. "We're seeing increasingly wholesale monitoring of entire populations with no suspicion of wrongdoing – the data is being monitored and stored in the hope that it might one day be useful."

"Without controls on this industry, the threat that surveillance poses to freedom on expression and human rights in general is only going to increase." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.