Julian Assange, creator of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, announced the latest project for his website today. Dubbed the Spyfiles, the project centers around the publication of files that allegedly prove how Western and Eastern high-tech companies compete against each other for lucrative contracts in support of some of the world's most oppresive regimes.
"When citizens overthrew the dictatorships in Egypt and Libya this year, they uncovered listening rooms where devices from Gamma Corporation of the UK, Amesys of France, VASTech of South Africa and ZTE Corp of China monitored their every move online and on the phone," he stated in the announcement on the Spyfiles website.
The files present damning information regarding Western powers in a covert industry that has grown over the last decade from supplying government intelligence agencies to one that now sells to any dictator or elect government with the money to spend.
At present, the industry is completely unregulated. The recent uprisings in the African continent and the subsequent ransacking of government offices provided valuable information further confirming the investigative work by groups such as Privacy International, among others.
During a press conference held today in London, Assange said to the audience, "today we release over 287 files documenting the reality of the international mass surveillance industry – an industry which now sells equipment to dictators and democracies alike in order to intercept entire populations." He continued, "Who here has an iPhone, who has a Blackberry, who uses Gmail? "Well you're all screwed [...] the reality is that intelligence operations are selling right now mass surveillance systems for all those products".
Another panel member, Pratap Chatterjee, highlighted that it was entirely possible for your phone to be used to record and send information about you, including information pertaining to your location even when the handset was in standby mode. He added that it could be used to take pictures and record your conversations without you having any knowledge of it happening.
The latest release of information marks the first since being forced to halt future publishing of classified documents due to its funding being almost completely blocked off. The site saw its revenues drop by 95 percent as a result of the block.
Google and Sonic, a small ISP, were both handed court orders in October demanding the release of information held about several of Wikileaks' supporters. Sonic eventually complied after losing its fight against the order, but Google never responded publicly about whether it complied.