Snowden spyware revelations: we need to unmask the five-eyed monster

Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, writes: As the global public reels from yet another Snowden revelation – this time, that the US and UK intelligence forces have hacked into and planted spyware on more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide – the hypocrisy of the US and British governments is brought into sharp relief. Less than four years ago Hillary Clinton, chastising China, declared that “countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation. In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all.” Given what we now know to be the “Five Eyes” complete stranglehold on the world’s internet infrastructure, how can we possibly reconcile repeated American appeals to internet freedom and condemnation of Chinese internet monitoring with US-sponsored network hacking?

Intelligence agencies and the governments that operate them have been revealed to be not merely secretive, but also hypocritical, and dismissive of any legitimate public concerns. It is time to bring these practices, and the covert agreements that underpin them, into the light. For more than 60 years, the secret patchwork of spying arrangements and intelligence-sharing agreements that makes up the Five Eyes alliance has remained obfuscated by the states that it benefits – Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. Save for one critically important release of declassified documents in 2010, the Five Eyes states have spent almost 70 years concealing from their citizens the scope and extent of their global surveillance ambitions – eroding the public’s ability to communicate privately and securely without examination or question.

That’s why today, Privacy International has written to the governments of the Five Eyes states demanding the publication of the treaties and agreements that underpin the alliance. At the same time, a group of civil society actors are launching a Campaign to End Mass Surveillance, enlisting citizens from around the world to urgently call on their governments to put down this mysterious arrangement. While these arrangements have been in existence for decades, the alliance is now coming out of the shadows to block UN resolutions condemning the mass surveillance that has been revealed over the summer. [Continue reading…]

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