U.S. Part of 25 Country Spy Network
A new report claims that 25 countries have joined a massive spy ring and are using a new kind of tracking software to monitor their citizens. Americans will be somewhat unsurprised to learn that among the group made up of mostly authoritarian nations is the ole U.S. of A.
The complete list, according the New York Times, includes The United States, Australia, Mexico, Qatar, Singapore, Ethiopia, Canada, Germany, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Estonia, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Serbia, Netherlands, Vietnam, India, Czech Republic and the UK.
The technology is part of an advent of government-grade spy tools which have made spying on citizens many times more efficient, sophisticated, and worrisome. The 25 nations have been using tech sold to them by the Gamma Group which provides surveillance vans, advanced government training and something called FinSpy.
FinSpy is essentially software that takes on the form of a computer virus and can bypass any computer antivirus system. It has the power to record Skype conversations, log keystrokes, extract sensitive and important files from a user’s computer, and even record citizens through their own webcams. Gamma Group has stated that the technology is only intended to monitor terrorists and other criminals, but there have already been reported abuses around the world. Vietnam, for example, has included the software in Android-powered phones and the country has a long history of activist suppression.
While it might not be surprising to see countries that have been known to crush political dissenters like Vietnam, Bahrain, and Ethiopia on the list, the fact that the U.S. has the highest number of servers deploying the virus is troublesome. Even Verizon Wireless is said to own a spy server, according to Slate, although a Verizon spokesperson said she was “not aware of this.”
With allegations from Google that the FBI is spying on Americans, or even that Microsoft and the NYPD teamed up to keep tabs on citizens, it seems that personal liberties are no longer sacred in this country. But it’s especially troubling to think that, with a growing list of nations actively eavesdropping on its citizens, the U.S. is simply keeping up with an alarming trend.
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