More leaked files about government spying

There seem to be more and more leakers willing to spill the dirt on what their governments are doing and it looks like The Intercept is their vehicle of choice for revealing information, which must be causing the major media outlets considerable chagrin at not getting the scoops. Of course, they have only themselves to blame because they have shown themselves to be not good custodians of the public trust, being more eager to ingratiate themselves with governments than informing the public.

The latest revelation by Cora Currier and Morgan Marquis-Boire is how a major German spy company Fin Fisher helped the repressive Bahraini government hack the Arab Spring protestors in that country and help put down that movement. That abortive uprising did not get much publicity and support from western governments likely because the Bahraini government is strongly pro-US.

The documents show that FinFisher, a German surveillance company, helped Bahrain install spyware on 77 computers, including those belonging to human rights lawyers and a now-jailed opposition leader, between 2010 and 2012—a period that includes Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. FinFisher’s software gives remote spies total access to compromised computers. Some of the computers that were spied on appear to have been located in the United States and United Kingdom, according to a report from Bahrain Watch.

Earlier this week, an anonymous hacker released 40 gigabytes of what appears to be internal data from FinFisher on Twitter and Reddit, including messages between people who appear to be Bahraini government officials and FinFisher customer service representatives.

On its website, FinFisher says it sells surveillance technology “exclusively to government law enforcement and intelligence agencies.” The company has previously denied reports that it sold spyware to Bahrain, claiming that examples researchers identified could have come from stolen or demonstration copies. The new documents, showing sustained correspondence between individuals in Bahrain and customer service, undercut that claim. FinFisher did not respond to requests for comment.

The article goes on to describe some of the other companies around the globe that are helping governments spy on dissidents and political opponents and human rights activists.


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