WASHINGTON (AP) – Britain’s electronic spying agency, working with the US National Security Agency, hacked into the networks of a Dutch company to steal codes that allow both governments to seamlessly eavesdrop on mobile phones worldwide, according to the documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden.
A story about the documents posted Thursday on the website The Intercept offered no details on how the intelligence agencies employed the eavesdropping capability – providing no evidence, for example, that they misused it to spy on people who weren’t valid intelligence targets. But the surreptitious operation against the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phone data chips is bound to stoke anger around the world. It fuels an impression that the NSA and its British counterpart will do whatever they deem necessary to further their surveillance prowess, even if it means stealing information from law-abiding Western companies.
The targeted company, Netherlands-based Gemalto, makes “subscriber identity modules,” or SIM cards, used in mobile phones and credit cards. One of the company’s three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas. Its clients include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint, The Intercept reported.