Austria’s Green Party says the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ have hacked into 13 million SIM cards in Austria. Addressing reporters in Vienna, the party’s security spokesman raised concerns over cyber attacks on phones, cars, banks and ministries. Peter Pilz called for a government investigation, sanctions and court action.
Based on documents revealed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA and the GCHQ have teamed up to hack top SIM card manufacturers including Gemalto which produces around 2 billion SIM cards a year.
What’s highlighted the issue of the surveillance attacks in Austria even more is the fact that the capital Vienna is home to several international organizations including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the UN-affiliated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Late last year, an Austrian journalist from the daily Der Standard made extensive use of the Snowden documents to reveal three major NSA stations in Vienna. He pointed to monitoring antennas on the rooftop of the US embassy, the upper floors of the IZD tower that overlooks the Vienna International Center, home to several UN-affiliated organizations including the IAEA and a villa in Pötzleinsdorf district.
Although some Austrian citizens say they don’t see how their private information could be useful to spy agencies, others say they would prefer that the agencies inform the government of their activities.
Opponents say American and British spy agencies are working without any warrants or control, replacing the rule of law with a surveillance state.
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