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Yaesoun Hamoud 09 Jul 2015

Great News! The Lebanese Government Just Spent $1.1 Million to Spy on Us

It still hasn’t gotten a lot of mainstream media attention. After all, if Snowden’s revelations didn’t get the world overly excited, the latest evidence of massive government surveillance shouldn’t cause too much of a stir either.

Just this past Sunday, Hacking Team, an Italian security firm specializing in surveillance technology, rather ironically got hacked. The hackers who hacked Hacking Team managed to hack (how many times can we use the hack in this sentence?) some 400 GB of data.

Although the firm has maintained for years that they do not sell their technology to “repressive regimes” – whatever the hell that means – the emails, internal communications and source code, now made available via torrent to any curious individual with an internet connection in the world, would seem to suggest that – oh-so shockingly – the firm was lying.

And guess what! Surprise, surprise: Lebanon was one of Hacking Team’s customers. In fact, a leaked invoice reveals that just over a week ago on June 30, Lebanon was billed $1,156,420 as a first installment for “Remote Control System Galileo.”

Now, I’m not a tech genius, but according to the Hacking Team’s brochure (yes, they have brochures for their products) the newly released system can “Take control of your targets and monitor them regardless of encryption and mobility.”

“Remote Control System is invisible to the user, evades antivirus and firewalls, and doesn’t affect the devices’ performance or battery life.”

“Hack into your targets with the most advanced infection vectors available. Enter his wireless network and tackle tactical operations with ad-hoc equipment designed to operate while on the move.”

“Keep an eye on all your targets and manage them remotely, all from a single screen. Be alerted on [sic] incoming relevant data and have meaningful events automatically highlighted.”

Now, you may be one of the people who trusts the government and thinks this technology is only being used to spy on groups like ISIS. Perhaps you’re right. But I’ll just assume you haven’t heard the recent reports of torture and unlawful detention for actions that aren’t even criminal in many other countries throughout the world.

Of course, Lebanon was only one of many customers revealed to be clients of Hacking Team. The usual suspects Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt all got outted on Sunday as well. Additionally, Sudan was revealed as a client even though the firm formerly denied that it did business with the repressive and violent regime.

And if you’re still not quite convinced that Hacking Team’s business with Lebanon is such a bad thing, Reporters Without Borders placed the group on The Enemies of the Internet index back in 2013.

My point? Carry on uploading all your selfies just make sure to add #LiveLoveSurveilance. Big brother is watching.

[Images via here and here.]