An internal audit carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA) and leaked to the Washington Post reveals that Chinese Spring Festival tourists were targeted while on holiday in the US.
The following paragraph appears on page two of the leaked document and is marked as “TOP SECRET//COMINT//NOFORN”, meaning it is derived from communications intelligence (most likely wiretaps) and should not be shared with foreign intelligence agencies.
From 4QCY11 to 1QCY12, there was an overall increase in incidents of 11%. There was also an increase of 11% for both E.O. 12333 and FISA incidents. The increase in incidents reported for 1QCY12 was due to an increase in the number of reported Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) roamer 1 incidents, which may be attributed to an increase in Chinese travel to visit friends and family for the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.
The SCMP explains just who was being targeted:
These incidents are when a “valid foreign target” whose mobile phone is being wiretapped without a warrant lands on American soil.
The target becomes active in the US when they land and an individual warrant is needed to continue the wiretap, or else it would be a breach of US laws which protect the communications of Americans and others while they are in the country.
The report, which tracked accidental and deliberate breaches, said that the rise in roamer incidents between January and March last year “may be attributed to an increase in Chinese travel to visit friends and family for the Lunar New Year holiday”.
Edward Snowden, NSA leaker and dubious expert on Russian commitment to human rights, told reporters while he was taking refuge in Hong Kong that the US regularly spied on computers and mobile devices in Hong Kong and mainland China.
According to the SCMP, the Hong Kong government said that US officials have “still not responded to a letter sent in June which sought answers to Snowden’s claims that US spies had hacked the city’s computers.”
[Image credit: @ameotoko]