The Swiss Commission for Data Protection is investigating allegations that a Swiss text messaging service, used by clients like Google and TikTok, was secretly employed to spy on people through their smartphones.
The charges against the Zug-based Mitto company were published Tuesday by the Bloomberg news agency and the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Mitto technology sends automated SMS messages – such as sales promotions, appointment reminders and security codes – from some of the world’s largest technology companies to its customers.
But one of Mitto’s co-founders is now accused of collaborating with surveillance companies, some with ties to government agencies, to secretly track people through their phones.
Media reports indicate that this is possible because Mitto has business relationships with telecommunications companies in hundreds of countries.
In response, the Swiss data protection commissioner on Tuesday said he had opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations.
“As a first step, it will ask Mitto AG to provide its comments and will also contact cellular network operators in Switzerland,” the commissioner’s office declared.
Mitto told Bloomberg that it did not know its technology was being used to spy on people.
“To be clear, Mitto does not have, has not and will not organize and operate a separate company, division or entity that provides surveillance companies with access to the telecommunications infrastructure to secretly locate people through their cell phones, or other illegal acts,” the company told the news agency.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says it has spoken with the whistleblowers and seen documents supporting their allegations.
This is not the first time a Swiss-based company has been accused of helping other entities’ surveillance operations.
Last year, Crypto AG, also based in Zug, was at the center of an international espionage scandal that called Switzerland’s political neutrality into question.
Source: with agencies