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Report slams "unscrupulous" U.S. surveillance over world, China

A Chinese Internet information body has complained of "unscrupulous" surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies over the rest of the world, and called for an immediate cessation of the practice.

A report by China's Internet Media Research Center published on Monday said the U.S. has taken advantage of its political, economic, military and technological hegemony to spy without restraint on other countries, including its allies.

The operations have gone "far beyond the legal rationale of 'anti-terrorism' and have exposed the ugly face of its pursuit of self-interest in complete disregard for moral integrity," the report read.

It added that the spying "flagrantly infringed international laws, seriously impinged on human rights and put global cyber security under threat."

In particular, it described China as a main target of the U.S. secret surveillance.

Chinese authorities have looked into the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA)'s secret surveillance program codenamed PRISM, which is revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

An investigation carried out by various Chinese government departments over several months "confirmed the existence of snooping activities directed against China," the report said.

Citing the Snowden documents, the report said U.S. secret surveillance targeted the Chinese government and its leaders, Chinese companies, scientific research institutes, ordinary netizens, and a large number of cell phone users.

Foreign media reports suggested that Washington had spied on China's current and former leaders, the ministries of commerce and foreign affairs among other government departments, as well as banks and telecommunication companies.

The U.S. magazine Foreign Policy reported in June last year that an "Office of Tailored Access Operations", created in 1997, under the NSA had successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems.

Earlier the South China Morning Post also reported U.S. hacking of China's telecommunication companies to access text messages, and sustained attacks on network backbones at Tsinghua University, the country's most prestigious university.

Even computer games and social networking software were watched, the report said citing the Guardian and the New York Times reports. It added that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is also a target of U.S. surveillance, according to the websites of Der Spiegel and the New York Times.

Surveillance Hegemony

The report came days after the U.S. slapped ungrounded cyber-espionage charges against five Chinese military officers.

However, according to the report, it is the U.S. itself that is conducting "unscrupulous" surveillance over the rest of the world, adding that Washington must "cease spying operations that seriously infringe upon human rights, and refrain from causing stress and antagonism in global cyber space."

"The revelations about PRISM and other programs demonstrate that the U.S. has mounted the most wide-ranging, costly, long-term surveillance operation in the history of the Internet," the report said.

An article in the Washington Post on Aug. 30, 2013, reported that the budget request of the National Intelligence Program for fiscal 2013 had boasted 52.6 billion U.S. dollars, of which spending on cyber operations accounted for 4.3 billion U.S. dollars, nearly 8 percent of the total.

Targets of the widespread secret surveillance by the U.S. government include, according to the Guardian, 35 world leaders such as Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Citing documents leaked by Snowden, Germany-based Der Spiegel revealed that the NSA surveillance might have snooped on as many as 122 foreign leaders.

The U.S. secret surveillance also targets ordinary citizens worldwide, as documents leaked by Snowden suggested that the NSA collects location data from nearly five billion cell phones and some two billion short messages each day.

The Washington Post revealed that the NSA also infiltrated into the data centers of Yahoo and Google around the world and collected at will data of hundreds of millions of user accounts.

Reports from The Guardian and The New York Times revealed that the NSA also tapped smartphone apps such as Angry Birds and Google Maps to gather personal data including age and location.

Monday's report stressed that the seamless cooperation among the intelligence agencies, government and the private sector, with their big-data processing capabilities, allows the surveillance to extend in scope, seemingly without limit.

The NSA has reportedly planted software and devices into some 100,000 computers worldwide since 2008, giving it the capability to monitor them around the clock and launch attacks even when they are offline.

Citing a top secret presidential directive issued in October 2012, foreign media reported that Barack Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for U.S. cyber-attacks.

The directive also stated that what it called Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) offered unique and unconventional capabilities to advance U.S. national objectives around the world with little or no warning to potential adversaries or targets.

The report said the U.S. government does not just target the Internet, but also key industries such as finance, transport, electricity and education, and the NSA's eavesdropping targeted overseas politicians, international organizations and business leaders.

The Der Spiegel reported in December last year that the NSA had broken almost all the security architectures designed by major companies, including those of Cisco, Huawei, Juniper and Dell.

The report noted that the exposure of the PRISM program prompted worldwide criticism of the U.S., even from its allies. Angela Merkel said, "We need trust among allies and partners. Such trust now has to be built anew."

"The irony is that exactly what they are doing to us is what they have always charged that the Chinese are doing through us," said William Plummer, a senior Huawei executive, in March when commenting on reports that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into the company's systems.

Snowden said exposing the PRISM program is to show the "hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries."

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 26May14]

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Privacy and counterintelligence
small logoThis document has been published on 28May14 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.