U.S. has stolen millions of text messages from Chinese phones, claims Snowden
- The U.S. government has stolen millions of text messages from Chinese telecommunications companies, Edward Snowden said in an interview
- The former CIA operative and NSA contractor said he has evidence of the hacking
- Snowden has been charged with espionage by the U.S. government
By ALEX GREIG
PUBLISHED: 17:57 EST, 22 June 2013 | UPDATED: 17:57 EST, 22 June 2013
The U.S. is stealing Chinese cell phone data, according to whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
The 29-year-old former National Security Agency contractor claims he has the evidence to prove that the U.S. government has hacked Chinese phone companies and stolen millions of text messages and other information.
Snowden made the claims from Hong Kong where he’s in hiding after the U.S. issued an arrest warrant for him, and said the U.S. had snooped on targets in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, including the prestigious Tsinghua University.
The university, which is home to the mainland’s six major backbone networks from where internet data from millions of Chinese citizens can be gathered, was breached as recently as January, Snowden said.
‘There’s far more than this,’ Snowden said in an interview with the South China Morning Post on June 12.
‘The NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cell phone companies to steal all of your SMS data,’ he told the paper.
During the interview, Snowden also said the U.S. and UK had technology which gave them unauthorized access to Blackberry phones of delegates at two G20 summits in London in 2009.
Chinese government data shows that text message is by far the most popular mode of communication in China, with 900 billion text messages exchanged in 2012, up 2.1 per cent from the year before.
China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile network carrier, with 735 million subscribers, and China Unicom, the second largest, has 258 million users. China Telecom is third in the world with 172 million users.
Warning: Fang Binxing, widely thought to be the man behind China’s ‘great firewall’ has been urging the Chinese government to review telecommunications security
The paper says that Chinese telecommunications companies have begun quietly replacing foreign-made equipment for fear of surveillance.
For years, cyber-security experts such as Fang Binxing, president at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications have been concerned that telecommunications equipment was vulnerable to hacking by foreign powers, taking advantage of foreign-made components.
Now that domestic suppliers are catching up with foreign imports, key components are being replaced with Chinese-made parts.
The U.S. government has defended its electronic surveillance programs with claims that up to 50 would-be terrorist attacks were prevented because of intelligence gathered by the NSA.
President Obama says the NSA is not listening in on phone calls or reading emails unless legal requirements have been satisfied.