The U.S. National Security Agency can easily side-step privacy measures on iPhones, BlackBerry and Android devices, according to a Sunday report from German news weekly Der Spiegel.
There are teams dedicated to breaking into each type of smartphone to gather intelligence, according to internal documents from the NSA and British counterpart GCHQ. This means they can access contacts, call lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information.
The documents obtained by Der Spiegel, however, doesn’t indicate that the NSA is conducting mass surveillance on smartphone users. The newspaper said these surveillance techniques are being used to target specific individuals.
According to the documents, agents couldn’t access some data on BlackBerry phones for about a year starting in May 2009. The manufacturer had just started a new method that compressed phone data. GCHQ eventually found a way in and reportedly celebrated cracking the method using the word “Champagne.”
Der Spiegel did not explain where it obtained the “secret” documents. One of the authors, Laura Poitras, an American filmmaker, has close contacts to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the Associated Press pointed out.
Since Snowden brought many NSA surveillance methods to light, many in Germany want the country to stop cooperating with the US on intelligence matters.
Thousands gathered in protest of the NSA’s alleged mass surveillance of Internet users in Berlin on Saturday.