Probe alleged US spying in PH: lawmaker


Posted at May 28 2014 01:09 PM | Updated as of May 28 2014 09:09 PM

MANILA - A lawmaker wants the House of Representatives to probe into the alleged US spying operations in the Philippines through the National Security Agency’s MYSTIC program.

In a resolution, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon urged the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Information and Communications Technology to conduct a joint congressional inquiry to investigate and ascertain the scope of MYSTIC.

Online publication The Intercept, which releases whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden’s leaks, claimed the MYSTIC collects “metadata” from mobile networks in countries such as the Philippines, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Kenya.

"All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people," The Intercept said.

One of the leaked documents that pertain to MYSTIC also exposed that the program serves as “legitimate commercial services for telcos” while covertly doing “signal intelligence.”

Ridon speculated that the country’s own National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is involved in MYSTIC’s operations.

“Given the information from Snowden’s documents, it is possible that the NTC has given express approval for the embedding of the MYSTIC program in the country’s telecommunications systems,” he said.

“With the possible involvement of the NTC, and the advanced capability of the MYSTIC program, it is possible that each and every text message sent by every Filipino also ends up in the NSA’s databases – an alarming possibility considering that the Philippines has been considered as the ‘texting capital of the world,’” he added.

According to the NTC, around two billion text messages are sent in the Philippines every day.

“The mere existence of a large-scale spy program that monitors the content of text messages in the Philippines reveals the US government’s double standards with regard to defense and security,” he added.