So we're paying for the Mexicans to wiretap?
Your Tax Dollars at Work: U.S. Funds Expand Wiretaps Around the World
Ask the proverbial “man in the street” how the billions of your tax dollars are spent in foreign aid, and he’s probably say the bulk of it is spent on humanitarian relief. For instance, the government makes sure U.S. aid in natural disasters like the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia is well publicized.
What is less well-known is the U.S. government also plays a massive role in developing what I call the “global surveillance infrastructure.” Case in point: the new $3 million “Communications Intercept System” being installed by Mexico's Federal Investigative Agency.
When complete, the system will permit cell phone users to be monitored as they travel and also allow authorities to identify callers by voice. And, while Mexico’s contract to install the wiretapping system is with Verint Systems, Inc. of New York, the purchase was bought and paid for by the U.S. State Department.
But what good is a brand new wiretapping system if you can’t use it without obtaining approval from a judge? Apparently, not much good at all. That’s perhaps why Mexican President Felipe Calderon is pushing to amend the Mexican Constitution to allow officials to tap phones without a judge's approval.
This is hardly the first time something like this has happened. Indeed, for nearly 15 years, the FBI and other U.S. agencies have secretly provided funding for a consortium of national law enforcement and intelligence agencies called the International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar (ILETS). Since 1993, ILETS seminars have brought together police from 20 countries to formulate a legal agenda for global surveillance.
The ILETS requirements for the national surveillance wiretapping systems stipulate that law enforcement agencies have access not only to the content of telephone communications, but also conference calling or call transfer data, all numbers called, all calls received, plus the capability to locate cell phone subscribers in real time.
Additionally, neither the interception target nor any other unauthorized person must be aware of the surveillance.
It would appear that the Mexican wiretapping system is designed to fulfill the ILETS requirements. The result is that country-by-country, the United States is secretly funding initiatives designed to eliminate communications privacy and undermine the rule of law.
Given this degree of coordinated surveillance, thoughtfully funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars, how can you protect telephone privacy? The single best suggestion is to purchase prepaid cellular phone service. The per-minute cost is significantly higher than if you have a service contract, but you can obtain your cell phone and purchase prepaid calling cards for it without a credit check and without showing proof of identify.You can buy prepaid cell phones almost anywhere in the United States through services such as Virgin.