BCHR urges European govts to control sale of Spyware 


Manama, July 16: The Bahrain Center for Human Rights(BCHR) poured concerns over evidence which revealed that the government of Bahrain has purchased surveillance tools to spy on Human Rights Activists on Thursday and asked Europe to control the sale of spyware to states.
According to the center, a recent hack by an unknown source into the Italian surveillance technology company revealed troubling connections with Bahrain. “Over 400 gigabytes of data, ranging from e-mails to personal WhatsApp backups, linked the company and its services to several governments around the World. This sensitive information entailed a purchase of the notorious spyware “Remote Control System” which spies on political opponents, human rights advocates, journalists and digital activists. It does so by recording Skype calls, controlling the target’s devices and eavesdropping via a computer’s webcam,” The Center said in a statement published on IFEX.

The report stated that the spyware and other surveillance services were used by 37 countries, including Bahrain. Among the 400 gigabytes of data, was a file called “Midworld Pro – Bahrain” which indicated a Bahraini purchase of the “Remote Control System” spyware worth €210,000 (over 87,000 Bahraini dinars), likely used to target human rights activists and political opposition.

BCHR, through a statement issued on Thursday, stated that this was against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as Article 12 urges that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. Article 19 states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”

BCHR has also called on European governments to: “Apply stronger measures to prevent such technology from being supplied to states that do not comply with international human rights norms and practices.” And to put pressure on the government of Bahrain to:

• Immediately stop purchasing and engaging with Hacking Team and any other spyware provider.
• Stop spying on human rights activists and political opponents
• Respect its obligation to protect human rights, including the right to privacy and to freedom of expression.
The Oslo Times

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