Keep national secrets containedSecret intelligence activities by the state spy agency are being exposed by lawmakers trying to take the spotlight.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) admitted that it purchased spyware from Italian vendor Hacking Team in 2012 to spy on the computers and mobile devices of terrorist suspects and North Korean agents, and for research purposes. It denied allegations it used the device for surveillance on citizens. The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy is unconvinced and demands to see the original log file, which would contain records of the clandestine operations by the spy agency. That would be outrageously risky for a group that survives on confidentiality.
The probe already exposed that the NIS has used the program more than 200 times to track North Korea’s illicit arms trade and the activities of spies in South Korea. Through the program, the agency arrested a group of Chinese drug traffickers. The information was shared in a closed-door session of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee and leaked to the media through a ruling party lawmaker.
It is extremely dangerous to leak confidential espionage activities by a state agency as it can put national security at risk. It gives the opportunity for the surveillance targets to change their habits and compromise future espionage activities. The same tactics could be used for counter-espionage activities by the enemy and terrorist groups. False tips and disruptions to surveillance activities could seriously undermine national security. The National Assembly law clearly has a confidentiality agreement provision preventing lawmakers involved in the legislative Intelligence Committee and government officials from disclosing this kind of classified information.
Intelligence gathering, surveillance and cyber activities through hacking techniques are necessary for a state spy agency in today’s world. Cyberskills and technology are crucial to fight North Korea and criminal groups that are getting more and more sophisticated. North Korea is already engaged in a cyberwar, making more than one million hacking attempts every day. Classified information must stay classified. It is a basic duty to protect our community from enemies.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 3, Page 30