Uruguay Begins Testing “Guardian” Spy Program

Español Uruguay has begun testing “the Guardian,” a system that will allow the government to intercept telephone calls and emails.

“They are undertaking various interventions with the parties involved to coordinate the tasks … to establish the program,” reported a state employee from the communications department to the Uruguayan newspaper El Observador.

A restricted decree from the Ministry of the Economy dated March 28, 2013, established the need for more effective tools to solve crimes using technology — hence the development of the Guardian system.

Telecommunications companies Claro, Movistar, and ANTEL must acquire new equipment to implement the new intervention system. An employee from one of these companies noted that the new system could significantly shorten the amount of time it takes to obtain information, but will be maintained under the strictest confidence.

The Guardian trial will permit monitoring of 800 cell phones and 200 landlines, in addition to tapping into social networks and electronic communications. However, none of this can occur without a judicial order. “Our clients will only lose privacy before a judge,” said the employee.

The platform, provided by a Brazilian company and previously employed by the Brazilian Federal Police force, has caused uproar in the country and earned notoriety as the “Brazilian echelon,” a reference to a spy network with the same name.

Jorge Díaz, the state prosecutor in charge of cases before the Uruguayan supreme court, has been cautious about the proceedings: “We will have to see what checks and guarantees the new system will have,” he said. “The Minister of the Interior must give the Judicial Branch sufficient rights. That is, no one can allow interventions if there are no guarantees.

“If the functions of this policy go astray or beyond what it is legally allowed, it will not serve anyone. It is in everyone’s best interests for the system to uphold rights to privacy,” he added.

Source: El Observador.

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