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Snowden: GCHQ Can Secretly Take ‘Total Control’ Over Your Smartphone

British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters can take “total control” of a smartphone without its user’s knowledge, said former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Snowden told the BBC’s Panorama that GCHQ could gain access to a handset by sending it an encrypted text message and use it for such things as taking pictures and listening in.

Both the GCHQ and NSA have invested heavily in technology allowing them to hack smartphones, he added, saying the agencies “want to own your phone instead of you.”

GCHQ controls phones using the agency’s “Smurf Suite,” a collection of secret intercept capabilities individually named after the tiny blue cartoon characters.

“Dreamy Smurf is the power management tool which means turning your phone on and off with you knowing,” Snowden said.

“Nosey Smurf is the ‘hot mic’ 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.

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