Edward Snowden Reinstates: GCHQ and NSA are reportedly spying for years airline passengers' calls using GSM mobile phone services in flight according to documents that Edward Snowden had signed and published by Ars.
The British company AeroMobile and SitaOnAir are used by dozens of airlines that want to provide in-flight connectivity. Among others: British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, and many Arab and Asian companies. Passengers can connect to GSM servers, which then communicate with satellites operated by the British company Inmarsat.
"Analyzing the use of GSM during the flight can help identify the destination of a target - not to mention other portable devices (and possibly individuals) located in the same place," the 2010 NSA newsletter said. leaked by Snowden.
GCHQ and NSA are allegedly intercepting signals sent from satellites to ground stations on the terrestrial GSM network.
According to NSA's presentation, as mentioned above, 2010 was originally limited to flights in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but this surveillance program had prospects to go everywhere.
Ars asked these three companies to respond to their awareness of espionage and whether they are able to improve the safety of their customers, but for the time being they have not received any responses from Inmarsat or AeroMobile.
A spokesman for SitaOnAir told Ars with an email:
The article and documentation that you have pointed out makes reference to the interception of the signal passing through a satellite network. The SitaOnAir service uses Inmarsat satellites for backhaul. Like any mobile network provider, in ground infrastructures and SitaOnAir provides several security-related data.
Ars also asked the British Information Service GCHQ to comment on the latest revelations, and received the usual routine answer from a service representative:
It is a long-term policy not to comment on information-gathering issues.
In addition, all of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and political framework that ensures that our activities are permissible, necessary and proportionate, and that there is strict supervision, including by the Secretary of State, Commissioners for monitoring of intelligence services and the parliamentary information and security committee.
All of our operating procedures strictly support this position. In addition, the UK monitoring regime is fully compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.