WikiLeaks has released the first batch of leaked files that it claims details the extent to which surveillance companies are selling information obtained through the monitoring of people's mobile phones and computers.
Launching the "Spy Files" at a press conference in London yesterday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: "The reality is, intelligence contractors are selling right now to countries across the world mass surveillance systems for all those products."
He said the release of the documents – 287 today, to be followed by further releases this week and into next year – uncovers a practice which, although lawful, is leading Britain towards a "totalitarian surveillance state". The project is being jointly undertaken by Mr Assange's organisation, website spyfiles.org and Privacy International among others.
Media organisations from six countries, including The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK, are also involved in the release.
In a statement, WikiLeaks claimed it was "shining a light on this secret industry that has boomed since 11 September 2001 and is worth billions of dollars per year".
Mr Assange said: "Who has an iPhone? Who has a BlackBerry? Who uses Gmail? Well, you're all screwed." He said he believed people's personal details were being traded by intelligence contractors.
According to Mr Assange, more than 150 organisations around the world have the ability to use phones as tracking devices as well as intercept messages and listen to calls.Reuse content