‘US annexed the whole world through global spying' – Assange
Speaking at the WHD.global conference on Wednesday, Assange – who has been living under asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012 – pointed out that there is a need for independent internet infrastructure for countries to maintain sovereignty to resist US control over the majority of communications. The annual conference is dedicated to global surveillance and privacy matters.
“To a degree this is a matter of national sovereignty. The news is all flush with talk about how Russia has annexed the Crimea, but the reality is, the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, principally the United States, have annexed the whole world as a result of annexing the computer systems and communications technology that is used to run the modern world,” Assange said.
“So it’s a matter of national sovereignty. If there is not at least some national network that can be maintained in a moment of economic or political conflict with the United States, then there is simply too much leverage on nation states to be able to effectively defend the interests of their peoples.”
Assange noted that the revelations leaked by Edward Snowden on NSA and GCHQ spying have caused a new wave of resistance against US control, shifting the geopolitical forces in Europe.
“These revelations about the United States and GCHQ annexing our new world of the internet has produced market forces to do something about it. But they’re also playing into, within Europe, a very interesting geopolitical phenomenon, which is Germany’s new leadership of Europe, and it demonstrating its new leadership of Europe.”
“One of the ways to demonstrate its leadership is to demonstrate how someone else does not control you. Here we have an example of Angela Merkel and German society as a whole striving slowly to demonstrate some kind of independence in relation to the United States,” he said.
“And we should absolutely grasp that moment to try and get more independence for Europe from the dominant military-intelligence system in the world, the US-NATO alliance, which accounts for more than 75 percent of global military and intelligence expenditure.”
Assange emphasized the importance of encryption and mandating new legislature for countries that seek more security for their sensitive information. He said that using bulk encryption private channels through countries like the US is a way to secure the safety of information.
“We can do that by mandating laws about encryption standards, telecommunications links must be encrypted to a certain standard, the links must be tested, the equipment must be tested, just like we have with the physical safes, we have standards,” he said.
“Those standards need to be made proportional to the value of those telecommunications links or the amount of data being stored and the EU needs to push for that in relation to trade negotiations with other countries.”
The revelations of former NSA contractor and CIA employee Edward Snowden last year exposed the NSA’s practices of mass surveillance. The NSA and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has been tapping the internet networks, emails, and phone calls of millions of ordinary citizens and political leaders around the world.
In March, Assange warned that the NSA and GCHQ will soon have the ability to spy on the entire planet, as their capabilities double every 18 months. During his Skype appearance at the South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive technology festival in Austin, he criticized the shift of power from people “who are surveilled upon” to those who control the surveillance complex. He called the current system “totalitarian dystopia,” meaning that “surveillance is total, so that no one exists outside the state.”