In an article in Der Spiegel magazine the United Nations was said to be the subject of an NSA spy network that monitored and decrypted its internal video conferencing system. NSA’s surveillance program called PRISM, collected metadata over telecommunications line. The discovery came to light during the Edward Snowden incident.
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden, former contractor for the NSA, relay that the U.N. system was decoded at its headquarters in New York last year. It was stated that in decrypting the system it increased the possibility of enhancing video monitoring and broadened information gathering throughout the system networks.
“Member-states are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions,” said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq. “The inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organizations, whose functions are protected by the relevant international conventions like the Vienna Convention, has been well-established international law.”
Snowden leaks revealed the United Nations was subject to NSA’s spy network in that increases in decrypted communications rose from 12 to 458. Vast amounts of data were obtained by the NSA in their spy network. It was discovered that the Chinese spied on the U.N. in 2011. Reports boast monitoring networks in most U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe.
The United Nations has not corroborated any of the allegations that the U.S. had infiltrated internal communications of their offices along with the European Union offices. It is well noted that international treaties protect its diplomatic functions from subversive and espionage type behavior which seek to work against the organization.
The Vienna Convention laid the groundwork for diplomatic issues and status among national and international agencies. It states that host countries are not allowed to search diplomatic premises or seize its documents or property. It also states that host governments must allow free communication between diplomats.
It is widely known that spying and other activities have been rampant since the cold war. The U.S. as well as other nations have adhered to convention policies as the need arises, as it relates to their own best interest. Since the unraveling of the cold war it was believed that tensions would relent in the face of a new era. It seems that eavesdropping and other spying activities have developed into more sophisticated functions.
Critics have speculated that the NSA information gathering system has little to do with fighting terrorism and more to do with power. Maintaining the status quo through manipulation and knowledge of the activities of other nations seems vital. The United Nations are aware of the allegations the U.S. subjected them to. The spy network of the NSA intends to ask pointed questions of the issue to its most staunch global ally.
By Thomas Barr