Some might ask where the line should be drawn between national security and our rights to personal privacy. We've known for quite a while now that our personal information has been secretly tapped for the National Security Agency (NSA) by telecommunications companies for years. Countless emails and other private communications have been scanned and read by the NSA over that time.
Not long ago, we told you how Yahoo was allegedly complying with the U.S. government to spy on all incoming emails. Now, we're learning about another potential secret government spying program that might shock you.
A classified NSA document from 2010 was recently leaked. It claims that government intelligence agencies have been spying on airline passengers for years when they connect a gadget to the in-flight Wi-Fi.
The leaked document begins with a riddle: "What do the President of Pakistan, a cigar smuggler, an arms dealer, a counterterrorism target, and a combating-proliferation target have in common? They all used their everyday GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) phone during a flight, and were tracked by the SIGINT System."
It appears to be referring to a new spying program. Intercepting digital information sent from a gadget being used on a civil aircraft.
What is the SIGINT System?
The NSA defines SIGINT on its site as:
SIGINT is intelligence derived from electronic signals and systems used by foreign targets, such as communications systems, radars, and weapons systems. SIGINT provides a vital window for our nation into foreign adversaries' capabilities, actions, and intentions.
NSA's SIGINT mission is specifically limited to gathering information about international terrorists and foreign powers, organizations, or persons. NSA produces intelligence in response to formal requirements levied by those who have an official need for intelligence, including all departments of the Executive Branch of the United States Government.
Even though the NSA says it's gathering information on potential terrorists, everyone connected to the plane's Wi-Fi is being tracked.
French newspaper "Le Monde" said this spying program could date back all the way to 2005 in both the U.S. and the U.K. The NSA told "Le Monde" that all of its activities comply with U.S. law and policy and declined to comment further.
We've told you about the dangers of using public Wi-Fi before. But did you ever think our own government would be using it to spy on you?
Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on the line between national security and privacy.