Internet Privacy: The Final Frontier

Published on: December 4, 2012

We have finally reached the final frontier, well not so much, but I thought I’d start with a pinch of drama, add to that the soundtrack of Star Trek playing through my head as I write today’s blog…

But seriously the issue of the telecommunications data is one of drama, one similar to stories found on the dusty pages of an old Russian novel. Several tweets, blogs, articles etc. have been published on the subject matter over the past few days, warning citizens on the dangers of approving such a request; the request of the ISF that is.

According to Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui the ISF Information Branch has demanded the content of all SMS as well as usernames and passwords of all data sessions, BBM Webmail, Facebook and Twitter.

According to reports, the ISF’s request would only provide citizens’ information registered two months ahead of the assassination of late Brig. Gen. Wissam Hassan under the pretext of “national security”.

However, the judicial authority, which is tasked with assessing the possibility of providing the security forces with the data, rejected the request submitted by the security agency.

The three-member authority stressed that the request clearly violates the constitution and law 140, which specifies the protection of communications data.

And here’s where the drama hits climax. Minister Sehnaoui is being held responsible for the repercussions of not responding to the Intelligence Bureau’s request, even being labeled as a traitor for failing to comply.

I won’t be bashful in stating my opinion on this. In simple terms and even in a kiddy voice I say: “Handing over our telecom info and selling out privacy is something very very bad.”

Here’s why:

11 Comments add one

  1. Joseph says:

    I am not sure how you have failed to mention that we live in a country filled with terrorist cells.
    These organization are being protected and are deeply involved in many assassinations.
    The data should be givem to be analyzed it may or may not hve clues.
    MOT can supervise how it is being handled an what is accessed.
    Do you think that of the head of the CIA was murdered then the US would care about individual privacy versus find the criminals?

    • lbcblog says:

      Joseph if you reread the blog you will notice that I suggested means where the request of the ISF can be adjusted through a law that can be passed at parliament whereby codes of conduct pertaining to the treatment of information can be specifically outlined. We cannot be so quick with emotional outbursts as to block out sound judgment. You say the threats of terrorism supersede the need for privacy, but wouldn’t it be better to strategically draft out a law that can safeguard both our privacy and our security? It would be a win-win situation in my opinion.

      • Joseph says:

        Totally correct. But currently we do not have such laws and there are crimes and murders happening.
        I am not that emotional believe me.

        From a technical point of view, most of the communication is over SSL so even if raw data is sent, it does not contain info that can be used (unless the ISF magically have access to the Facebook and Gmail server private keys, which I doubt).

        On the other hand, co-operation between government departments is something internal, but for some reason it is now a debate on the minister’s own facebook page!

        What I wanted to hear from the minister (as a Lebanese citizen that does not blindly follow any political or religious belief) are how he can set the collaboration system as DATA will always be asked when murders happen. How can the ISF investigate any criminal activity without that info?

        The ISF trust is not the issue, we should trust the full government departments for we (as a people) put them in those places. If we do not then we should just stay divided without any hope.

        Anyways, Thanks for your reply.

        • lbcblog says:

          “But currently we do not have such laws and there are crimes and murders happening.” – We have a law that stipulates the protection of citizens privacy, if another clause within that law or article is not drafted to allow the release of information in emergency cases then both the Ministry and the ISF, the whole government truth be told would be massacring that law [#140] and with the scarcity of laws that protect citizens the risk is too high for it to be done haphazardly.

          “…over SSL so even if raw data is sent, it does not contain info that can be used (unless the ISF magically have access to the Facebook and Gmail…” true when it comes to Facebook and Gmail the government (any government) cannot obtain the passwords however with the IP address request seen in the document i posted, there would be no need to resort to either facebook or google for access.

          “What I wanted to hear from the minister (as a Lebanese citizen that does not blindly follow any political or religious belief) are how he can set the collaboration system as DATA will always be asked when murders happen. How can the ISF investigate any criminal activity without that info?” Yes a system for cooperation MUST be devised, i TOTALLY agree. Some common grounds must be reached between parties in those regards.

          “The ISF trust is not the issue, we should trust the full government departments for we (as a people) put them in those places. If we do not then we should just stay divided without any hope.” Here’s where I disagree, im not one who has ever wholeheartedly trusted the government, never have never will in whatever shape/form they come. Lebanon has just been ranked 128 out of 176 on the Corruption Perception Index. In my opinion citizens must always free themselves from propagandized thoughts and never stop questioning motives when it comes to the government, even the parties who they themselves elected.

  2. anita says:

    I refuse to give up on my internet privacy i hate someone to watch over me freedom and privacy is all what i need

  3. I refuse to give up on my internet privacy i hate someone to watch over me ,privacy and freedom is all what i need

  4. Kayci says:

    I agree that our Internet privacy is off limit, but are we sure that this is exacetly what the IFS asked for?!?! I mean it doesn’t make sense. Are we allowed to see the official letter whereby the IFS asks for all our Internet activities and passwords from the MOT? I would wait for such clarification before judging the request.

    • lbcblog says:

      The request is official whereby it was set for discussion at yesterday’s cabinet session. details pertaining to the exact modifications of the request are now being negotiated by the minister of interior marwan charbel. The issue and all its details will reappear in the upcoming cabinet session to take place 12/ January 2012.

  5. hisham says:

    Joseph.. first off! when you say “we(as a people)” S T O P!!! speak on your behalf or the behalf of the isf not on OUR behalf(the real people), Thanks!

    second: the minister is NOT blindly following any political or “religious belief” regarding this highly important matter.
    i for instance belong to his opposite political group(14) and from a totally different “religion”(if you want to look at it this way.. i am lebanese and so is he & this is how we see things but.. just to clear it out for you)

    third (and regarding the assassination): we don’t have real active “terrorist cells” in lebanon(and you like everyone else know that more than i do), the group that you’re talking about is not into anyyy hiding.. they’re very honest and clear, it is a war of two projects in the country/region, and the deceased was interfering with the regional matter while pausing a threat on them by directly collaborating with foreign intelligence systems, so they resolved it with him.. and they were captured on video under the sun in clear view, and whoever dares to say anything to annoy them enough will be spitting his blood(so keep on searching for fingerprints), not use that assassination(like every time as an “EXCUSE” for other means of gaining power and mass control) aaaaaand these people are professionals on every level.. they don’t chat on facebook, msn messenger, twitter or play super mario games or whatever(i mean are you serious or are you that shallow!!??) :) and israeli networks/groups use separate communication tools(as you see
    all the time on tv) -> they are not so foolish either..
    the only people they’ll be UnrighteouslY SPYING upon is us!(the lebanese people)& if you love “technical stuff” i think (only think) these people use 4digit-official numbers(you know what that means
    right?? i think you do) and those numbers can NOT be surveyed and as i said they are not foolish -> if “national security” is the “cute banner” to this “innocent” request from the information(spying) department of the ISF

    p.s. they(the assassins) are known and the scene evidence is overwhelming but question is does the isf(heroes) dare to open their mouth about that??

    fourth: i’m not a telecoms technician(& no one needs to be) but [cell activity information] must be around specific numbers/individuals in a
    “SpeCific” area and a SpeCific time frame, under Supervision(& approval) of the judicial system and MOT technicians(for a good reason), but not allllll over Lebanon and the Lebanese with all their most personal private(PRIVATE) data of all types and forms under the false banner of “national security”(how flashy)

    fifth: co-operation exists but this matter is a matter that relates the public(us -> the people) and we all know that the isf wasn’t so internally “cooperative” when they invaded the MOT’s buildings by force before to steal that data(that changed nothing by the way crime-wise).

    barrak obama(and any other “respected” politician/official for that matter) very normallyyyy debates any subject(healthcare/abortion/security/whatever…) that concerns his people WITH his people because after all that government is From the people and For the people, not trying to pass UNUSUAL requests that do not pass in zimbabwei

    they’re ripping our tax money to spy on us??? okey… but… this is way too much!

    sixth: why are you fighting the syrian regime, by the time that you are trying to enforce the same(even worse) methods of freedom and privacy breaching terms that they’re striving to end? go live there if you like, it’s a veryyyy beautiful country(as a country) and i think suits you just fine.
    the ISF trust is alllll the issue :)

    ????? ????? ?????? ???????? ?? ??? ??????? ?? ?????(????? ????????)

  6. dima says:

    Let them go spy on israel & others.. NOT us!! :) always tough and smart on us :)
    i as a citizen with all my rights REFUSE to expose my life and privacy
    they(the intelligence systems) are the real criminals and they should be the ones exposing their lives

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