US 'collecting data' of PH phone users – report
MANILA, Philippines – Last March, The Washington Post reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had built a surveillance system via a project called MYSTIC that could record an entire nation’s telephone calls and store them for up to one month.
The report, based on documents released by former US government contractor Edward Snowden, showed that the NSA is using MYSTIC for surveillance operations in 5 countries mostly to collect metadata (time, source and destination of calls) but in 2 of the 5 countries also entire voice calls.
This week, The Intercept – set up as an online platform to release documents provided by Edward Snowden – named 4 of those 5 countries. The report identified the 3 countries where metadata (time, source and destination of calls) is being collected: the Philippines, Kenya, and Mexico.
The Intercept also reported that the NSA is recording “virtually every cellphone conversation on the island nation of Bahamas” and one other nation that it has chosen not to name because doing so could lead to “increased violence.”
The program that the NSA uses to record and store voice calls is called SOMALGET and was implemented without consent of the Bahamian government.
The NSA reportedly gained access to the democratic country’s cellular network via a separate agreement with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Leaked NSA documents revealed SOMALGET was deployed in the Bahamas to track down “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers.”
According to a report in the Nassau Guardian the Bahamian government has reached out to the United States asking them to explain the spy claims.
Meanwhile, Wikileaks isn’t happy about The Intercept's decision to leave out the name of the 5th country. Following a heated argument on Twitter, the website promised to name the 5th country on Thursday, May 22.