By ESAT News,
EVEN though the Ethiopian government have long denied the allegation that it has been using Remote Control System (RCS) to spy on journalists and citizens, senior officials of Hacking Team have admitted on Monday that the company has indeed sold its hacking software to Ethiopia.
Asked about the Ethiopian government’s use of Remote Control System, David Vincenzetti, founder and CEO of Hacking Team, said, “We’re the good guys … when we heard that Galileo- [a spy tool]; had been used to spy on a journalist in opposition of the government, we asked about this, and finally decided to stop supplying them in 2014.”
Several international human rights organizations blamed the Ethiopian government for abusing the spyware to limit press freedom. The Remote Control System (RCS) the Ethiopian government acquired from hacking team is believed to steal passwords and private email communications from journalists, opposition political members, and individuals.
The Ethiopian government had already paid 1.55 million euros to get the service from Hacking Team, the receipt from hacked email communication revealed.
Hacking team is blamed for selling the software to Syria, Ethiopia, and Sudan – countries accused of human rights abuses.
David Vincenzetti told the Guardian that his company had also sold its software to Egypt, Morocco, and other African countries.
Previously, a Canadian company, Citizen Lab, reported that the software acquired from Hacking Team was used to wiretap the activities of Ethiopian journalists and opposition party members.
When asked about the issue, the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC told Washington Post that it was not aware of the issue.
The Ethiopian government officials were not available for the comment.
In related news, an Ethiopian immigrant in US with a pseudo name Kidane filed a lawsuit against the Ethiopian government at a US District Court on Tuesday. Aljazeera reported that Kidane’s computer was fully controlled by “clandestine computer programs” and copies of his electronic activity — including Skype calls, Internet searches and emails — were relayed to the Ethiopian government’s Information Network Security Agency (INSA). FInSpy was sent to Kidane’s computer as a Microsoft word attachment on behalf of the Ethiopia government in later October 2012, Aljazeera reported.
Kidane’s legal counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Nate Cardozo, says that wiretapping without court authorization is illegal, whoever does it. The report by Aljazeera indicate that they at least want people to raise their eyebrows at the National Security Agency.
The court started hearing on the case on Tuesday.