Facebook: Preventive Security Service Spies on Users’ Accounts and PCHR Calls for Investigation
Date: 22 April 2021
Time: 11:00 GMT
Facebook announced that it has disabled accounts used by the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PSS) to spy on users’ accounts, including persons opposing the Palestinian Authority, human rights activists and journalists. PCHR expresses its shock and calls upon the Public Prosecution to open an investigation, emphasizing that breach of privacy violates the Palestinian Basic Law and is considered a crime according to the Cybercrimes Law.
On Wednesday, 21 April 2021, Facebook declared in a statement that it has disabled a network of fake accounts linked to the PSS, which works on building trust with the network’s users by creating fictitious social personas and then sending “malicious links” to the targeted accounts, enabling them to spy on these accounts. The statement adds that the hackers’ network has operated for a long time before being tracked; all involved accounts were taken down. The statement says that the network targeted accounts in the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya.
In a statement to the media, PSS’s Spokesperson, ‘Ekremah Thabet, rejected Facebook’s accusations and emphasized that the service respects the media and works according to law and order, adding that the PSS respects freedoms and privacy.
PCHR emphasizes that the right to privacy is a constitutional right codified in Article 32 of the Palestinian Basic Law and it is also Palestine’s international obligation according to Article (17) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, according to the 2018 Cybercrimes Law, hacking accounts and spying on them constitute a crime.
PCHR reiterates that the right to privacy and Secrecy of Correspondence is an inalienable constitutional right, and any violation of this right constitutes a crime that is not subject to statute of limitations. Thus, PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to open a serious investigation into the incident, publish the results and bring the perpetrators to justice.