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Senators Demand Details of Foreign Surveillance of American Cell Phone Networks

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Mobile phone - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The disclosure of illicit devices in the Washington, DC that can intercept cellular telephone calls has prompted a request that the Department of Homeland Security also disclose who is responsible and the types of devices being used, according to a letter to a top DHS official from four Senators on Wednesday.

"The American people have a legitimate interest in understanding the extent to which US telephone networks are vulnerable to surveillance and are being actively exploited by hostile actors."

The letter from Senators Ron Wyden, Cory Gardner, Rand Paul and Edward Markey was addressed to the Department of Homeland Security’s NPPD Director Christopher Krebs.

A press release accompanying release of the letter explained that by tricking mobile devices and rerouting mobile communications, so-called stingrays and other cell phone surveillance devices can reveal the location of a cellphone, eavesdrop on calls or plant malware.

READ MORE: US National Security Agency Deleted Surveillance Data — Reports

The letter cited a February 6 Power Point presentation on "Mobile Threats" given to federal government employees that was unclassified but marked "For Official Use Only."

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It also asks the Department of Homeland Security to remove the official use designation from so the presentation can be shared with the public.

Earlier in April, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has admitted the presence of devices in the US capital that could allow criminals or foreign governments to track and monitor the communications in Washington, DC.

The US agency reported that the use of the IMSI catchers could pose threat to national security, while Christopher Krebs, the DHS official leading the NPPD, said in a separate letter also released by The Hill that the use of such IMSI catchers "is unlawful and threatens the security of communications, resulting in safety, economic and privacy risks."

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