For several years now, privacy advocates in the Middle East and North Africa have grappled with the impact of targeted surveillance technologies on various communities in their countries. These tools, sold by unscrupulous European companies to some of the world’s least democratic governments, have been increasingly used to spy on activists, often without any legal mandate. This summer’s Hacking Team leaks confirmed the extent to which the spyware industry hasspiraled out of control. Often signed by the company’s CEO with fascist-era slogans, emails between the company and its government purchasers show that the company’s previous claims—that they don’t sell to repressive regimes—were bald faced lies. While the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab had previously unearthed the sale of Hacking Team tools to some countries in the region, the leaks showed that the company’s reach is farther than previously imagined: Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates have all emerged as clients of Hacking Team at one time or another. Reactions from across the region vary from anger to utter rage. In a piece entitled, “Hacking Team: The company that spied on you during the revolution!” [fr], Tunisian group Nawaat shows that the […]
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