Smurf Suite: Edward Snowden Claims GCHQ Has Total Control of Tracking Smartphone Users
The infamous whistleblower claims that the UK Intelligence Agency GCHQ can use secret technology (Smurf Suite) to track and control any Smartphone in the country.
In a recent interview with BBC (video below), Edward Snowden talked about how a new GCHQ technology is secretly hacking phones. According to him, they can access photos, steal files, listen in to conversations and even track the exact location of any smartphone.
Mr. Snowden leaked thousands of documents that have to do with the alleged secret project. The documents outline GCHQ’s project, the “Smurf Suite”, the inner workings of which are much more sinister than the name suggests. The suite is a number of virus-based programs, each with a specific task:
- Dreamy Smurf – a hacking technique that can turn a smartphone on or off. It eliminates the obvious way to prevent the other Smurfs from accessing your phone.
- Nosey Smurf – a hack that allows GCHQ’s staff to listen in to both sides of any over-the-phone conversation.
- Tracker Smurf – using a smartphone’s GPS capability, this program allows to track its user’s exact location.
The U.S. whistleblower, who fled to Russia back in 2013, says he leaked the information because it contradicted the law and went against basic Democratic freedoms principles. In his own words, the Smurf Suite program is being ran “without our knowledge, without our consent and without any sort of democratic participation.”
However, Mr. Snowden admitted that the technology was meant to be used against only the worst type of criminals – terrorists, paedophiles, etc. He told BBC that the problem was in the initial “mass data collection” that has to be done before executing the Smurf Suite on specific targets. And, though there is no reason to think UK’s GCHQ is accessing other information, there is also no way to know if the staff are reading regular people’s e-mails and listening to (legal) private conversations.
When asked about the legitimacy of the documents, UK’s intelligence agency didn’t confirm nor deny it, saying:
Our work is always done in accordance with all the strict legislative policies and the legal framework, which ensures that the GCHQ’s activities are necessary and proportionately carried out. There is much oversight over our activities. The secretary of state, the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee and the interception services commissioners all have access to our inner workings. Our operational activities have always rigorously supported that oversight.
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