While much of the American public has quietly accepted living in a soft police state based on the false narrative that mass surveillance ‘keeps us safe’, the NSA scandal continues to be a hot button issue in other parts of the world. According to reporters Fabian Schmid and Markus Sulzbacher of Austria’s Der Standard, newly uncovered documents from the Snowden archive show that the people of Austria and the domain of one of the country’s leading Internet Service Providers have long been political, diplomatic and economic espionage targets for the NSA. The country’s Data Retention Task Force, stressing that the Justice, Interior and Defense Ministries ‘”have a duty to fully investigate and show responsibility,’ and that whether ‘Austrian authorities benefited from the data the NSA collects.’
For Austria’s Der Standard, reporters Fabian Schmid and Markus Sulzbacher describe how it has been discovered that the NSA is has been eavesdropping on the companies, institutions and people who use Austrian Internet Service Provider UPC, the domain of which is chello.at:
Newly-released Snowden documents explicitly mention as a target for data collection the domain chello.at which belongs to Austrian Internet Service Provider UPC. The targeting was conducted by tapping fiber optic cables.
The U.S. intelligence agency NSA has an unusual interest in the Austrian customers of Internet Service Provider UPC. So much is clear based on documents from the Snowden archive which provide information on the mass collection of Internet data.
“The domain chello.at [belonging to UPC] is mentioned in a top secret NSA document from April 2013 that comes from the Snowden archive,” Le Monde journalist Martin Untersinger confirmed to Der Standard. “In the document, the NSA lists several domains of interest to them.”
According to Untersinger, it is unclear specifically what data is being collected. “We only know that the collection is conducted passively by the NSA surveillance machine, for example, by funneling the data though a collection point.”
Chello.at, along with 32 other domains and IP addresses, are named in the blacked-out section of a document published by Le Monde. The Paris newspaper has reported on the spying against clients of French companies Alcatel-Lucent and Wanadoo which are named in the same document.
Mass U.S. Monitoring of Innocent Non-Americans Must End (El Pais, Spain)
The monitoring of these 35 targets occurred under a series of espionage programs labeled Upstream. With the help of private telecom firms, the NSA vacuums up Internet communications transmitted through fiber optic cables. Upstream programs are closely tied to another called PRISM – which was unveiled and made headlines just as the Snowden affair began. With PRISM, the NSA claims to have direct access to the servers of the largest Internet providers in the world including Google, Facebook and Apple, which the companies have denied. With Upstream programs, in contrast to PRISM, the NSA is working in cooperation with global Internet providers and aims to target data not available through PRISM. Both programs are allegedly authorized under U.S. law.
Tapping fiber optic cables
The collection of data occurs at multiple nodes. The majority of records are collected in the United States, but there are also eight nodes outside of U.S. territory using an Upstream subroutine called Oakstar. U.S. corporations AT&T and Verizon were identified in recent months as partners. NSA examines several data streams with reference to predefined selectors (among them chello.at), skim the affected Internet traffic then guide it through the NSA data center.
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