The Smurf army arrives by TXT messages, Snowden says, without users ever being aware of the message or its payload arriving or altering their phones in any way. The topic of hacking smartphones for surveillance starts about nine minutes into the interview, as Snowden revealed the GCHQ’s “Smurf Suite”.
Nosey Smurf: It allows GCHQ to turn on the microphone to listen in on conversations.
The significance of this slightly aged revelation has been thrown into sharp relief with the slow, rumbling approach of the controversial Investigatory powers bill, which Downing street bills as providing security services, “with the tools to keep you and your family safe” by allowing them a number of intrusive, surveillance powers. “We’re still waiting for them to call us back”, he told the BBC, when asked if his lawyers were in active negotiations with the government. Yes, “even if your phone is switched off because they’ve got the other tools for turning it on”.
Mr Snowden who was responsible for the biggest leak of intelligence documents in history is now a fugitive in Russian Federation.
Smartphone users can do “very little” to stop security services getting “total control” over their devices, the American whistleblower Edward Snowden has said.
GCHQ uses a software package called “Smurf Suite”, including one tool that can remotely activate a device even if it was powered down, Snowden said.
The BBC said the United Kingdom government declined to comment in line with usual policy on intelligence matters.
Snowden told the BBC that he’d “volunteered to go to prison with the government many times”, but had not received a formal plea offer. “But we haven’t gotten much farther than that”. “Because the longer you wait with programs like these, the more deeply entrenched they become”, he explained. Charged with three felony accounts and violation of the US Espionage Act, Snowden would be tried without a jury and could face at least 30 years in jail or perhaps even a life sentence if he were to return to the United States without a deal, reported the Guardian.
Speaking to Peter Taylor on tonight’s Panorama, the whistleblower said: ‘If I was a traitor, who did I betray? Snowden said he is exposing the plans in the public interest. Mr. Petraeus admitted that he had provided a lover with notebooks of secrets, and then lied about it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He added, “I have paid a price but I feel comfortable with the decisions that I have made. If I’m gone tomorrow, I’m happy with what I’ve got, I feel blessed”, he said.