The founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks says the US spy agencies pose a threat to the sovereignty of Latin American nations as the countries depend on US-based telecommunication technologies. Julian Assange said speaking via videoconference at Uruguay’s University of the Republic that Latin America’s reliance on hardware and traffic handling by Washington was a source of vulnerability to monitoring by US spy agencies including the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI, Russia Today reported on Friday.
“The penetration of the internet in all facets of society, substituting traditional mail and telephone and even physical interaction between individuals has placed in the hands of the US information provided by telecoms for the majority of humanity,” Assange said.The WikiLeaks founder referred to the rising popularity of social networking and products offered by companies such as Google, saying that Latin American countries unknowingly upload profiles of their citizens in computer systems within enormous servers in the US state of California. The profiles are controlled by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others. “These are directly or indirectly controlled by mechanisms, both legal or otherwise, via intelligence services of the United States and peripheral organizations.” The remarks come a few days after the Associated Press said the US Justice Department had secretly gained access to two months of telephone records of its reporters and editors. Assange added that the US government had “not demonstrated scruples in following its own laws in intercepting these [phone] lines to spy even on its own citizens.” He further said that there “did not exist” laws in the United States to prevent it from “spying on citizens of foreign countries.” The records obtained by the Justice Department comprised outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington, and Hartford, Connecticut, and for AP’s main number in the House of Representatives press gallery. MR/HSN