News Column

WikiLeaks Warns of 'Surveillance State' Through Phone Monitoring

Dec 1, 2011
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks

Leading Western countries are exporting "mass surveillance systems" around the world by selling programmes which facilitate the interception of mobile phones and computers, according to WikiLeaks.

"The reality is, intelligence contractors are selling right now to countries across the world mass surveillance systems for all those products," said Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing website, in London.

The interception, although lawful, was leading toward a "totalitarian surveillance state," he said.

"Who here has an iPhone? Who here has a BlackBerry? Who here uses Gmail? Well, you're all screwed," Assange told a news conference.

"It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but as of today, mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, are a reality."

He said WikiLeaks had begun releasing a database of hundreds of documents in an ongoing Spy Files project that would represent a "mass attack on this mass surveillance industry."

The 40-year-old Australian said that more than 150 organizations around the world had the ability to use phones as tracking devices, as well as to intercept messages and listen to calls.

He said that the US, Britain, Australia, South Africa and Canada were among countries developing the "spying systems," which they were selling to "dictators and democracies alike."

Libya and Syria were among countries using the technology to monitor political opponents, said a WikiLeaks spokesman.

The surveillance industry had grown over the past 10 years from a "a covert, very secretive, small industry" to one involving 160 companies and 25 countries, he said.

Assange currently lives in Britain, where he is involved in ongoing legal proceedings over his extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges.



Source: Copyright 2011 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH


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