Cabinet Approves Handing Over Text Messages Content of 'Suspicious' Numbersإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The cabinet rejected on Wednesday during a session at the Grand Serail to provide the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau with the full text messages data (SMS), saying that it will only hand over the data of “suspicious” numbers.
Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui announced that the government rejected unanimously the security agency's request, deciding to agree strictly to hand over the content of the “suspicious” numbers.
Last week, media reports that Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and Sehnaoui agreed on providing the Intelligence Bureau with the text messages data on two stages.
According to the agreement the Intelligence Bureau will be handed over at a first stage the movement of the text messages in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, but will not be able to view the texts.
In the second stage, the security agency will be able to view the content of the text messages between “suspicious” numbers.
Prime Minister Najib Miqati voiced his support to the Intelligence Bureau's request in comments published in As Safir newspaper, but he stressed that it shouldn't infringe on freedoms.
Miqati quoted a statement by Benjamin Franklin as saying “those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.”
Sehnaoui told As Safir newspaper that the cabinet “will not provide any security agency with the full telecom data under any pretext.”
He noted that his stance comes in harmony with the judicial authority, which is tasked with assessing the possibility of providing the security forces with the data, that also rejected the request submitted by the Intelligence Bureau.
The three-member authority stressed that the request clearly violates the constitution and law 140, which specifies the protection of communications data.
Media reports said that the security agency also extended its request to acquire Facebook and several internet passwords that the Lebanese people use, under the pretext of “national security.”
Sehnaoui confirmed the report saying that his ministry received the request in July 2012 “but didn't comment on it as it will not be approved for it breaches the privacy of citizens in delicate matters.”
However, a security source told the daily that the Intelligence Bureau will not violate the citizens' privacy, saying that those who carry out such acts will be held responsible.
“If the Lebanese don't trust their security agencies... They shouldn't ask about investigations or the truth,” the source said.
It stated that all the private data are being breached and are under surveillance by western companies such as Facebook, twitter, and Viber, but the Lebanese keep on using them.
“There's no such thing as privacy nowadays as long as we are using the latest technologies,” the source added.
The source noted that the security agency doesn't only want to reveal the identity of those behind the assassination of Intelligence Bureau head Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan on October 19 but “want to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.”