The South American nation of Ecuador has its own Internet surveillance program much like the NSA’s PRISM. This system called a “GSM interceptor” was purchased for SENAIN, which is Ecuador’s intelligence agency. The system said to be able to monitor and manipulate Internet data in real time.
This information was purportedly handed over to BuzzFeed by an anonymous Intelligence officer working inside SENAIN who wanted to expose the PRISM-like program.
Thanks to ex-NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden, the headlines for nearly three weeks have been inundated with stories on the NSA and its controversial PRISM program with its incredible ability to harvest data direct from major tech corporations servers. It was revealed that PRISM isn’t alone but the sidekick to the United Kingdom’s more complex system.
Not long after coming forward, Snowden applied for asylum in Ecuador, which previously also gave refuge to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange through their embassy in London. Wikileaks lawyers have purportedly been working with Snowden since he revealed himself to the Guardian not long ago.
The device known as a ‘GSM interceptor” is an Israeli-made system purchased for around $500,000 (U.S.) and sold by Smart Solutions LLC, that is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel.
In the classified documents, a Pablo Romero was addressed by Smart Solutions Representative Gabriel Guecelevich. Guecelevich writes about the technical aspects of the GSM system and what it can do. The GSM system has the ability to “identify phone calls, route phone calls to different places, intercept text messages, falsify and modify the text messages, keep messages in their system, disconnect calls, block phone calls, system should be able to intercept a minimum of 4 phone calls simultaneously,” Guecelevich wrote in part.
Smart Solutions says the system is capable of large-scale surveillance and able to capture data while in transit so it can be altered before it reaches its recipient.
The documents reveal that SENAIN does monitor social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and they also keep close tabs on local journalists or anyone critical of the current Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa.
Ecuador has been the safe haven for both Julian Assange and Ed Snowden, who are both celebrity whistleblowers, but oddly enough Ecuador is not the bulwark of free speech nor guardian of human rights. In fact, the South American nation has been heavily criticized internationally for censoring journalists and just recently enacted a law that puts a gag order on the media inside the country if so ordered.
While Ecuador may not be necessarily technologically advanced with their domestic technological developments, they do have their firsts in regards to new technologies being used. For instance, in 2012 Ecuador became the first country in the world to use a nation-wide facial recognition system.
According to the BuzzFeed website the materials provided on the spying program were submitted to them by an anonymous employee of SENAIN. It only seems logical that the time of this incident is due, or at least in part, to Ed Snowden’s uncovering of PRISM. The source of the documents said they would remain anonymous due to possible repercussions from the Ecuadorian government.