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US uses tech companies controlling internet to spy on world: report

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-31 10:09

CAIRO -- While pushing for a ban on TikTok over claims that China uses the popular app to spy on Americans, the US government itself spies on the world by using tech companies that effectively control the global internet, said a report published on the English news website of Al Jazeera.

The US government allows its intelligence agencies to "carry out warrantless spying" on foreigners' emails, phones and other online communications, said the report published on Tuesday.

Compared with other countries, Washington has the advantage of having jurisdiction over the small number of companies that effectively run the modern internet, including Google, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft, it said.

"It is a case of 'rules for thee but not for me,'" Asher Wolf, a tech researcher and privacy advocate based in Australia, was quoted as saying.

The US targeted 232,432 "non-US persons" for surveillance in 2021, when the most recent year for which data is available, the report said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) estimates that the US government has collected more than 1 billion communications per year since 2011, according to the report.

There have been some indications that US officials see China, rather than TikTok itself, as the ultimate concern, it noted.

The US moves to restrict TikTok appeared to be "more political than good policy," Vedran Sekara, an assistant professor at the IT University of Copenhagen, was quoted as saying.

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