By Steven Musil
The National Security Agency engages in industrial espionage, grabbing intelligence from foreign companies regardless of the information’s value to national defense, Edward Snowden told a German TV network.
In text released to the media ahead of a broadcast Sunday, German public television broadcaster ARD quoted the former NSA contractor as citing German engineering firm Siemens as an example.
“There is no question that the US is engaged in economic spying,” Snowden told ARD, according to a Deutsche Welle account of the interview. ”If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to U.S. national interests — even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security — then they’ll take that information nevertheless.”
In response to a New York Times report that the agency had installed surveillance software on nearly 100,000 computers around the world, the agency denied supplying any obtained intelligence to US companies to give them a competitive edge.
Germany was particularly critical of the NSA’s surveillance activities after it was revealed last year that the agency eavesdropped on the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders. During reforms to the NSA announced earlier this month, President Obama pledged to end the practice of monitoring the political leaders of US allies.
“NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements,” the NSA said in the statement to CNET. “In addition, we do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”
NSA: China is violating antihacking deal it made with US By Sean Keane
A National Security Agency official says China has been breaching a 2015 agreement to stop cyberspying against the US.
Rob Joyce, a senior intelligence official with the NSA, aired his suspicions Thursday, according to Reuters. He did note that the even though the attacks haven’t stopped, they have dropped “dramatically” since the 2015 agreement between then-President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to the deal, neither government would “conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property including trade secrets or other confidential information for commercial advantage,” Obama said back in 2015.
“It’s clear that they are well beyond the bounds today of the agreement that was forged between our countries,” Joyce said, according to Reuters.
China “firmly opposes” the allegations, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reportedly told a daily news briefing in China.
Last month, China responded to a report that President Donald Trump’s personal iPhone had been tapped by Chinese spies by suggesting that he switch to Huawei. Trump’s relationship with China has been tense since the US entered a trade war with the country. A Bloomberg Businessweek report alleged last month that Chinese surveillance microchips had been inserted into Apple and Amazon data center equipment during the manufacturing process, prompting China and the tech companies to issue firm denials.
In August, researchers said they found Chinese hackers targeting Alaska’s state government, as well as the state’s Department of Natural Resources and utilities companies, as its leaders went to China to discuss trade deals.
Neither the NSA nor the Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately responded to requests for further comment about Joyce’s comments.