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[liberationtech] New EFF Lawsuit: American Sues Ethiopian Government for Spyware Infection

Shava Nerad shava23 at gmail.com
Tue Feb 18 18:26:38 PST 2014


Why, the parrallels to these cases, once established as precedent, could be
provocative.

(Grabs popcorn.)
SN
On Feb 18, 2014 3:09 PM, "Mustafa Al-Bassam" <mus at musalbas.com> wrote:

> This is great. Would also like to add that yesterday a criminal
> complaint was filed in the UK for a similar situation:
>
> https://www.privacyinternational.org/press-releases/privacy-international-seeking-investigation-into-computer-spying-on-refugee-in-uk
>
> Mustafa
>
> On 18/02/14 18:16, Nate Cardozo wrote:
> > Hi LibTech,
> >
> > Today, we sued the Ethiopian Government for its use of the malware
> > described in last year's Citizen Lab report. Thanks to Citizen Lab for
> > their amazing work. Details below.
> >
> > Best,
> > Nate
> >
> > --
> > Nate Cardozo
> > Staff Attorney
> > Electronic Frontier Foundation
> > 815 Eddy Street
> > San Francisco, CA 94109
> > nate at eff.org | 415.436.9333 x146
> >
> > Help EFF defend our rights in the digital world
> > https://www.eff.org/donate
> >
> >
> >
> https://www.eff.org/press/releases/american-sues-ethiopian-government-spyware-infection
> >
> > February 18, 2014
> >
> >
> >     American Sues Ethiopian Government for Spyware Infection
> >
> > Months of Electronic Espionage Put American Citizen and Family at Risk
> >
> > Washington, D.C. - An American citizen living in Maryland sued the
> > Ethiopian government today for infecting his computer with secret
> > spyware, wiretapping his private Skype calls, and monitoring his entire
> > family's every use of the computer for a period of months. The
> > Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the plaintiff in
> > this case, who has asked the court to allow him to use the pseudonym Mr.
> > Kidane - which he uses within the Ethiopian community - in order to
> > protect the safety and wellbeing of his family both in the United States
> > and in Ethiopia.
> >
> > "We have clear evidence of a foreign government secretly infiltrating an
> > American's computer in America, listening to his calls, and obtaining
> > access to a wide swath of his private life," said EFF Staff Attorney
> > Nate Cardozo. "The current Ethiopian government has a well-documented
> > history of human rights violations against anyone it sees as political
> > opponents. Here, it wiretapped a United States citizen on United States
> > soil in an apparent attempt to obtain information about members of the
> > Ethiopian diaspora who have been critical of their former government.
> > U.S. laws protect Americans from this type of unauthorized electronic
> > spying, regardless of who is responsible."
> >
> > A forensic examination of Mr. Kidane's computer showed that the device
> > had been infected when he opened a Microsoft Word document that
> > contained hidden malware. The document had been an attachment to an
> > email message sent by agents of the Ethiopian government and forwarded
> > to Mr. Kidane. The spyware contained in the attachment was a program
> > called FinSpy, a suite of surveillance software marketed exclusively to
> > governments by the Gamma Group of Companies. In the several months
> > FinSpy was on Mr. Kidane's computer, it recorded a vast array of
> > activities conducted by users of the machine. Traces of the spyware
> > inadvertently left on his computer show that information - including
> > recordings of dozens of Skype phone calls - was surreptitiously sent to
> > a secret control server located in Ethiopia and controlled by the
> > Ethiopian government.
> >
> > The infection appears to be part of a systematic program by the
> > Ethiopian government to spy on perceived political opponents in the
> > Ethiopian diaspora around the world. Reports from human rights agencies
> > and news outlets have detailed Ethiopia's campaign of international
> > espionage, aimed at jailing opposition and undermining dissent. But
> > Ethiopia is not alone. CitizenLab - a group of researchers based at the
> > University of Toronto, Canada - has found evidence that governments
> > around the world use FinSpy and other technologies to spy on human
> > rights and democracy advocates across the globe.
> >
> > "The problem of governments violating the privacy of their political
> > opponents through digital surveillance is not isolated - it's already
> > big and growing bigger," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Yet
> > despite the international intrigue and genuine danger involved in this
> > lawsuit, at bottom it's a straightforward case. An American citizen was
> > wiretapped at his home in Maryland, and he's asking for his day in court
> > under longstanding American laws."
> >
> > In the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.,
> > today, Mr. Kidane asks for a jury trial as well as damages for
> > violations of the U.S. Wiretap Act and state privacy law. The Ethiopian
> > Embassy in Washington received a courtesy copy of the lawsuit, and the
> > District Court will formally serve the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry in
> > Addis Ababa with copies of the papers in both English and Amharic.
> >
> > Richard M. Martinez, Mahesha P. Subbaraman, and Samuel L. Walling of
> > Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. are assisting EFF as co-counsel
> > on this case.
> >
> > For the full complaint in Kidane v. Ethiopia:
> > https://www.eff.org/document/complaint-32
> >
> > For more on this case:
> > https://www.eff.org/cases/kidane-v-ethiopia
> >
> > Contacts:
> >
> > Nate Cardozo
> >    Staff Attorney
> >    Electronic Frontier Foundation
> >    nate at eff.org
> >
> > Cindy Cohn
> >    Legal Director
> >    Electronic Frontier Foundation
> >    cindy at eff.org
> >
> >
> >
> >
> --
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