#GCHQ illegally obtained users phone and email records judges rule

Privacy International

Did GCHQ illegally spy on you?

Have you ever made a phone call, sent an email, or, you know, used the internet? Of course you have!

Chances are, at some point over the past decade, your communications were swept up by the U.S. National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program and passed onto Britain’s intelligence agency GCHQ. A recent court ruling found that this sharing was unlawful but no one could find out if their records were collected and then illegally shared between these two agencies… until now!


SOURCE = Privacy International


Mobile phones hacked: can the NSA and GCHQ listen to all our phone calls?

February 20, 2015

The latest revelations from the NSA files have shown that US and UK surveillance agencies could have the ability to listen in on billions of mobile phone calls from around the world. But how can they do that, and what does it mean for the general public? And should you be worried?

What’s happened?

The biggest manufacturer of Sim cards in the world has reportedly been hacked into by the US NSA and UK GCHQ.

The security agencies stole the encryption keys that are built into every one of the Sim cards made by the Dutch firm Gemalto.

What is a Sim card?

The Subscriber Identity Module (Sim) card is the small chip placed into almost every mobile phone in the world that allows the phone to connect securely to the mobile phone service provider. It is essentially the key that logs the user into the mobile phone network allowing calls, text and data access.

The secure handshake between the network and the sim encrypts all communications going between the mobile phone and the network.

What does this mean?

With the encryption keys for Gemalto Sim cards, the US and UK security services can potentially listen in on any conversation across any network that uses the compromised Sim cards.

How could they listen in?

The keys allow the security services to decrypt voice communications sent between a mobile phone and a mobile mast, which carries the call to the recipient. To pick up the call they can use an aerial placed in the vicinity of the caller. They will have to be relatively close to the mobile phone user, but an aerial could be placed anywhere and would not have to be visible.

Is this legal?

There is no doubt that the security firms would have breached Dutch law. If the keys are used to listen into conversations, it is likely to be a violation of data protection laws in most countries.

Where has this information come from?

The revelations of the hack come from the NSA files supplied by Edward Snowden and reported on by Glen Greenwald’s The Intercept. The files reveal the extent of the breach and that Gemalto was targeted by the Mobile Handset Exploitation Team (MHET), a unit formed by the NSA and GCHQ in April 2010 to target vulnerabilities in mobile phones.

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SOURCE = The Guardian


GCHQ spooks ILLEGALLY spied on millions of Brits, judges confirm in shock ruling

February 6, 2015

GCHQ spooks illegally spied on millions of Brits using a top secret American electronic snooping system, judges have ruled. British secret services broke human rights law after allowing the US National Security Agency to spy on our citizens’ private communications, the secretive Investigatory Powers Tribunal confirmed today. It is understood America first began harvesting details of Brits’ internet use in 2007, when its controversial PRISM and Upstream surveillance systems were rolled out. GCHQ spies were allowed access to all the secretly snaffled information after striking an illegal deal with the US. This is the first time the shadowy tribunal has ever ruled against GHCQ, which is home to MI5 and MI6. However, spooks have had free reign to snoop since December last year, when the tribunal said electronically spying on Britons did not contravene our human rights.

James Welch is legal director for Liberty, one of the privacy groups which launched legal proceedings against GCHQ. He said: “We now know that, by keeping the public in the dark about their secret dealings with the National Security Agency, GCHQ acted unlawfully and violated our rights.” Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, said spooks have engaged in an “illegal mass surveillance sharing programme that has affected millions of people around the world”. “For far too long, intelligence agencies like GCHQ and NSA have acted like they are above the law,” he continued. “We must not allow agencies to continue justifying mass surveillance programmes using secret interpretations of secret laws.”

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SOURCE = The Mirror


Did GCHQ illegally spy on your emails and phone calls? Use this tool to find out

February 16, 2015

Are you worried that intelligence agencies may have been illegally spying on you? Consumer group Privacy International has created a tool to let you easily find out whether GCHQ targeted your communications. The tool has been developed in the response to a ruling that GCHQ unlawfully spied on British citizens by allowing the US National Security Agency to harvest all of our data and then share it with UK spooks. This was taking place for years, up until December 2014. The ruling means that ANYONE around the world can ask the spy agency if their records were unlawfully shared by the NSA.

Privacy International will collect all of the requests – which involve entering in your name, email address and phone number – from around the world and then submit them to the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal. If it turns out you HAVE been illegally spied on, you can then request that your records – including emails, phone records and internet communications – are deleted. The recent ruling was actually the first time in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal’s history that it had ruled AGAINST the actions of security services.

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SOURCE = The Mirror


Spies ‘Hacked’ SIM Cards To Listen To Calls

February 20, 2015

British and American spies stole the encryption keys from the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world to eavesdrop on calls, a US news website says. Calls made on the 3G and 4G networks are encrypted – but by stealing the keys, intelligence agencies were able to monitor mobile phone communications without the permission or knowledge of customers, phone companies and foreign governments. The UK intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) teamed up with the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) to target Dutch SIM card manufacturer Gemalto.

The company creates around two billion SIM cards annually for 450 wireless networks around the world. It is believed that employees of Gemalto had their emails penetrated after being contacted via Facebook. In one GCQH slide cited by The Intercept, the agency said it had access to Gemalto’s “entire network”. A spokesman for Gemalto said the firm will “devote all resources necessary” to understand the “sophisticated techniques” used to get the SIM card data.

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SOURCE = Sky News

The Independent

Sim card database hacked: NSA and GCHQ stole details to listen in on phone calls

February 20, 2015

British and American spies hacked the biggest Sim card manufacturer in the world, allowing them to listen in on much of the world’s phone communications. Gemalto, the company targeted by the hack, makes 2 billion Sim cards per year for 450 networks in most large countries around the world. Users would have no idea that their phone calls and data had been intercepted, and the breach appears to have been in effect for years. The NSA and GCHQ broke into Gemalto to find the encryption keys for Sim cards, the small cards put in phones to allow them to access cellular networks. That gave them full access to communications, according to a GCHQ document leaked by Edward Snowden and reported by The Intercept. The keys allow the intelligence agencies to listen in on communications without getting approval from either telecom companies or the governments of the people that they are listening in on.

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SOURCE = The Independent


GCHQ and NSA ‘hacked Dutch company’

February 20, 2015

GCHQ and the NSA hacked into the networks of Netherlands-based Gemalto, to steal the codes, according to the documents given to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. A story posted on the website The Intercept offered no details on how the intelligence agencies employed the eavesdropping capability – providing no evidence, for example, that they misused it to spy on people who were not valid intelligence targets. But the surreptitious operation against the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phone data chips is bound to stoke anger around the world. It fuels an impression that the NSA and its British counterpart will do whatever they deem necessary to further their surveillance prowess, even if it means stealing information from law-abiding Western companies.

The targeted company, Gemalto, makes “subscriber identity modules,” or SIM cards, used in mobile phones and credit cards. One of the company’s three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas. Its clients include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint, The Intercept reported. The Intercept offered no evidence of any eavesdropping against American customers of those providers, and company officials told the website they had no idea their networks had been penetrated. Experts called it a major compromise of mobile phone security. The NSA did not respond to a request for comment. In the past, former agency officials have defended using extra-legal techniques to further surveillance capabilities, saying the US needs to be able to eavesdrop on terrorists and US adversaries who communicate on the same networks as everyone else.

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SOURCE = The Belfast Post


US and UK accused of hacking Sim card firm to steal codes

February 20, 2015

US and British intelligence agencies hacked into a major manufacturer of Sim cards in order to steal codes that facilitate eavesdropping on mobiles, a US news website says. The Intercept says the revelations came from US intelligence contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Dutch company allegedly targeted – Gemalto – says it is taking the allegations “very seriously”. It operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. The Intercept says that “the great Sim heist” gave US and British surveillance agencies “the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data”.

It says that among the clients of the Netherlands-based company are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and “some 450 wireless network providers around the world”. The Intercept alleges that the hack organised by Britain’s GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA) began in 2010, and was organised by operatives in the “Mobile Handset Exploitation Team”. Neither agency has commented directly on the allegations. However GCHQ reiterated that all its activities were “carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate”.

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#DidGCHQSpyOnYou? Privacy rights group to ask on your behalf

February 20, 2015

Privacy International has launched a website offering to help people discover whether British spy agency GCHQ illegally obtained their data from their US counterpart the NSA. Participants submit their name and email address to Privacy International. Their details will then be sent to GCHQ and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) as part of a large-scale inquiry. The campaign follows a ruling by the IPT earlier this month that judged intelligence sharing between the US and UK prior to December 2014 was unlawful because the public were unaware they were being spied on. A Privacy International spokesman told RT the campaign had already struck a chord, with over 6,000 people signing up in the first 24 hours. More than 1,000 Twitter messages have used the #DidGCHQSpyOnYou hashtag as of Tuesday afternoon according to social media analysis service Hashtracking, including influential American hacker Jacob Appelbaum.

Privacy International said the campaign is not limited to British citizens, but open to anyone in the world. “Given the mass surveillance capabilities of the NSA and GCHQ, and that the agencies ‘share by default’ the information they collect, an unlimited number of people could have been affected by the unlawful spying,” Privacy International said in a press statement. If participants discover they are the victim of illegal spying, they can request their records are deleted. This could apply to emails, phone records and internet communications. Ironically, however, participants will need to pass their information to GCHQ. Privacy International concedes this “sounds absurd,” but explain the IPT “needs people to come forward to file complaints.”

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SOURCE = Russia Today


In wake of GCHQ ruling, IPT must act on Govt snooping on lawyers

February 6, 2015

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has today ruled that mass-surveillance of the internet by intelligence agency GCHQ before December 2014 was unlawful. The case marks the first time that the highly-secretive IPT has ever ruled against the intelligence services in its entire, 15-year existence. Legal charity Reprieve is due to go before the Tribunal next month concerning Government surveillance of confidential – or ‘legally privileged’ – communications between lawyers and their clients. The principle of legal privilege is a long-standing one in UK law, and is crucial to ensuring a fair trial.

The cases have been brought on behalf of the victims of two separate CIA “rendition” operations in which the UK was heavily involved: both cases involve anti-Gaddafi dissidents and their families – including a pregnant woman and four children aged 12 and under. The Belhaj and al Saadi families were both kidnapped and ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004, where Mr Belhaj and Mr al Saadi were tortured. The UK government will soon be defending the case in the Supreme Court, and has failed to provide sufficient assurances that it is not snooping on the private legal conversations between the men and their lawyers.

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SOURCE = Reprieve

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