Why is Edward Snowden talking about Smurfs?

The UK intelligence agency, GCHQ, can hack into your smartphone without your knowledge – according to Edward Snowden.

In an interview with BBC’s Panorama, which aired last night, Snowden claimed that GCHQ can access handsets by enabling a programme called “Smurf Suite”, which includes “Dream Smurf”, “Nosey Smurf” and “Tracker Smurf”.

“Dreamy Smurf is the power management tool which means turning your phone on or off without you knowing,” he said.

“Nosey Smurf is the ‘hot micing’ tool. For example, if it’s in your pocket, [GCHQ] can turn the microphone on and listen to everything that’s going on around you - even if your phone is switched off because they’ve got the other tools for turning it on.

“Tracker Smurf is a geo-location tool which allows [GCHQ] to follow you with a greater precision than you would get from the typical triangulation of cellphone towers.

“[GCHQ] wants to own your phone instead of you”

GCHQ has neither confirmed nor denied Snowden claims, instead a spokesperson said: “It is long-standing policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.

“All of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

“All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”  

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