The Philippines is among the countries being secretly monitored by a telecommunications spying program of the US National Security Agency (NSA), as revealed by whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden.
Online publication The Intercept, a platform releasing Snowden's leaks, alleged in a post on Tuesday (Manila time) that NSA's cutting-edge surveillance program MYSTIC collects "metadata(元数据)" and content from mobile networks in the Caribbean, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines and another unnamed country.
"All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people," The Intercept writers Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras said in the report.
Metadata are information revealing message or call's time stamp, source and destination--information collected by MYSTIC that may be authorized by the host country and even by the telecommunications firms. The program also offers "near real-time, complete access to the additional target country's GSM networks," according to the document leaked by Snowden.
Another classified document, provided by Snowden, provides a NSA Special Source Operations' description of MYSTIC as a "program for embedded collection systems overtly installed on target networks predominantly for collection and processing of wireless/mobile communications networks."
There is no indication whether MYSTIC also intercepts phone calls and voice data in the Philippines, but it does pull text messaging data.
The Intercept said it asked NSA to comment, but it only said it does not collect foreign intelligence in an arbitrary and unconstrained way as it follows protocols to protect people's privacy. Philippine laws prohibit wire tapping and related violations not authorized by all parties concerned.
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