موقع إخباري يهتم بفضائح و انتهاكات دولة الامارات

UAE’s Dual Nature Exposed: Officials Advanced via Repressive Security Apparatus

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The UAE government’s promotion policies are contingent upon individuals’ service and adherence to the oppressive security apparatus, which includes surveillance, prosecution of both citizens and expatriates and espionage charges.

The most recent evidence of this is the decision of UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to appoint Faisal Abdulaziz Al Bannai as Advisor to the President of the State for Strategic Research and Advanced Technology with the rank of Minister.

Al-Bannai is known to have founded the “Dark Matter” company in 2014 and was dismissed from the position of CEO of the company in 2018, against the backdrop of the company’s development of the “ToTok” program, which the State Security Service used to spy on citizens and residents.

Al-Bannai’s exclusion from the company came weeks after he admitted that his company had spied on Emiratis and residents of the Emirates for the benefit of the State Security Service, to suppress activists on social media sites and arrest any human rights or media activist.

Al Bannai holds the position of Secretary-General and Board Member at the Advanced Technology Research Council has chaired the Board of Directors of the EDGE Group since January 2022, and has served as a member of the Emirates Research and Development Council since September 2021. Additionally, he joined the Board of Directors of the UAE University in April 2021.

An investigative report backed by Justice for Journalists has previously verified that the UAE leads in digital surveillance across the Arab region. It highlighted that electronic espionage emerged for the first time in the Arab world during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.

The investigation found that Arab governments, under the leadership of the UAE, employed stringent security measures. They blocked dissenting voices on social media platforms, targeted notable journalists and activists, and utilized surveillance systems to monitor and gather information about them. This data was then used to intimidate and suppress opposition.

Pegasus investigations revealed the involvement of many Arab governments, including Jordan, the Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco, in purchasing the “Pegasus” spy system produced by the Israeli intelligence company NSO.

Even with the passing of the Arab Spring era, the use of spyware persists to this day, with advancements now incorporating artificial intelligence technology.

However, it’s paradoxical that investing in spy systems is no longer deemed “profitable” for the countries acquiring them, considering the significant expenses involved and the reliance they foster on surveillance, particularly since Israel emerged as the global hub for espionage in recent years.

This investigation is part of a broader initiative shedding light on contemporary methods of breaching and surveilling Arab female journalists and human rights activists. It delves into the repercussions of breaches like “Pegasus” and similar techniques on the personal and professional lives of female journalists.

The project is a collaborative effort between the “Daraj” website and the non-governmental organization “Justice Foundation for Journalists (JFJ),” headquartered in London.

In 2015, leaked WikiLeaks documents revealed that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Oman, Egypt, and Morocco imported Remote Control System technology from the Italian company Hacking Team back in 2011.

The Tunisian authorities purchased Evident technology from the Danish company ETI in 2011 with the outbreak of protests in Tunisia.

Then the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other countries went to buy the same technology from the company after it was acquired by a British company called British Aerospace BAE.

This technology follows almost Google’s methodology, as it allows its possessors to enter keywords to search for information related to a specific person.

Later, in 2016, the UAE Monitoring and Control Center announced the installation of a surveillance system that brings together all of Abu Dhabi’s cameras in public places and buildings in the emirate.

The company is owned by a former member of Israeli intelligence, Mati Kochavi, who resided in the United States at the time.

Under the guise of preserving peace and security, the UAE government finalized a surveillance contract valued at 600 million US dollars. This contract was awarded to the Swiss company AGT in 2011, the same company that owns the Israeli Falcon Eye.

This is the first time in the Arab world that a surveillance device of this magnitude has been used, and the first time that the exchange of privacy for security has been established.

Under Project Raven, the UAE brought in elements through the National Security Agency to spy for it on citizens of several nationalities, including American citizenship.

However, American law prohibits former American intelligence agents from spying on their citizens. The spy team resided in the capital, Abu Dhabi, and received its salaries through the Emirati company DarkMatter.

The team used Karma technology for the breach until 2019, when an iPhone update reduced the effectiveness of the technology, according to what Reuters revealed.

According to a report published by The New York Times, Brij developed the ToTok application for communication in the Emirates before the App Store removed it in 2019.

The application has received more than five million downloads on application download stores. Most of these downloads were in the UAE because it banned communications through other communication applications such as “FaceTime” and “WhatsApp.”

While the application wasn’t utilized for espionage purposes, akin to many apps, it necessitates users to grant access to the camera, microphone, location, and other data, enabling tracking and monitoring of users.

The application marks a significant stride as government-affiliated companies endeavor to independently develop surveillance devices without dependence on external sources or the importation of modern technologies.

Several investigations, led by the Canadian CitizenLab investigations, also revealed that the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco resorted to purchasing the Israeli “Pegasus” spy system, manufactured by NSO, to hack the phones of Arab activists and dissidents, political opponents, the wives of the ruler of the Emirates, and several activists.

This technology functions by identifying vulnerabilities within the electronic device to infiltrate it, granting the spying party access to the camera, microphone, conversations, geographical location, etc., without necessitating the device owner to click on a suspicious link.

A report by the Canadian organization Citizen Lab also showed that the UAE purchased a spy system from the Israeli company “Candero”, which specializes in computer monitoring.

This system allows its buyer to hack an unlimited number of computers and monitor only 10 of them at the same time in exchange for $18.9 million. For an additional 1.8 million, users can monitor an additional 15 victims at the same time.