A new investigation by The Intercept reveals the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe.

The secret operation targeted the Dutch company Gemalto. Its clients include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. It produces two billion SIM cards a year. According to The Intercept, the stolen encryption keys give intelligence agencies the ability to monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. According to The Intercept, agents from the NSA and GCHQ formed the Mobile Handset Exploitation Team in 2010 to specifically target vulnerabilities in cellphones. The Intercept’s report was written by Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley. It was based on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. We speak to Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. He is also a visiting fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project.

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