Former CIA director David Petraeus stated at a tech company summit earlier this week in southern California that the latest dump of documents by WikiLeaks could be as damaging as those released by Edward Snowden in 2013.
“It clearly is on the order of the damage done by Snowden,” the retired general told The Montgomery Conference in Santa Monica, which is attended by tech company executives and venture capitalists, KPCC reported.
Snowden’s documents revealed the vast capabilities of the National Security Agency and other government spy arms to view Americans’ emails, phone records, and listen in on their cell phone conversations.
The documents released by WikiLeaks last week exposed the techniques the CIA and other agencies use to hack cell phones, computers, tablets and even smart TVs to conduct surveillance. The government can listen to and watch the subjects of surveillance using the devices’ mics and cameras.
The CIA also has the ability to make the breaches appear to be from a source other than the U.S. government, such as from Russia.
Petraeus observed that a further fallout of the WikiLeaks dump will be to make it more difficult for intelligence agencies to work with tech companies.
“This will damage the relationship that was being reestablished with IT companies in the wake of the Snowden revelations,” he said. “They did enormous damage to those relationships and there was a rebuilding process that was going on, and I’m afraid this could set that back a bit.”
The CIA declined to comment on the authenticity of the documents released by WikiLeaks, but the agency affirmed it must stay on the cutting edge of technology in order to protect the United States.
“CIA’s mission is to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries. It is CIA’s job to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defense in protecting this country from enemies abroad. America deserves nothing less,” the agency said in a statement.
The CIA also noted that it “is legally prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans, and CIA does not do so.”
— Cryptome (@Cryptomeorg) March 9, 2017
As reported by Western Journalism, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said during a press conference Thursday that he will share more details about CIA hacking techniques with tech companies, including Apple and Samsung, so they can “develop fixes” to thwart the spy agency’s efforts.
“There’s absolutely nothing to stop a random CIA officer” or even a contractor from using the technology, Assange said. “The technology is designed to be unaccountable, untraceable. It’s designed to remove traces of its activity.”
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