By Jonas Tameru
“Last week, media outlets, citing a briefing published by CitizenLab – an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto, Canada – widely reported an allegation that the Ethiopian government is using FinSpy malware.
FinSpy is a lawful interception malware developed and marketed by a British company, Gamma International, and is said to have the ability to “capture information from an infected computer, such as passwords and Skype calls, and send the information to a FinSpy command & control (C2) server.”
CitizenLab claimed that its research “strongly suggests” that Ethiopia is using FinSpy to intercept “political activists” by embedding the malware in images of officials from Ginbot-7, an organisation designated as terrorist by Ethiopian law.” Posted by Daniel Berhane
The above article was posted by a famous blogger in Addis, this week. It talks about the allegations made by Citizen Lab claiming that the Ethiopian government uses a malware called finspy to intercept the communication of political activists within and outside the country.
I am not here to discuss the technical ways used to do so, rather how inappropriate this action is from a government that claims to be free from dictatorship. In a democratic system, governments are cautious of intruding with the privacy of their citizens. This sort of offence in punishable by law in most countries that don’t follow a dictatorial form of leadership. Countries like China and Iran, who openly admit to their dictatorship, are the sort of countries that violate the public’s privacy to protect their authoritarian rule from harm’s way.
This is even further proof that the EPRDF is a regime of dictatorship, that does not bend to the rules of democracy. Should not this government begin to act according to its claims? Should it not treat its citizens with the level of respect they deserve? We Ethiopians are not a herd of cattle that will be blindly driven by dictators to slaughter.
It is not clear what the government wishes to accomplish from the interceptions, but whatever they find it is almost certain that it will be used to convict the opposition as terrorists in the specially designed anti-terrorism law which is aimed at imprisoning opposition party officials. It is obvious that anyone who keeps mere contact with the opposition is subject to severe scrutiny and imprisonment, whether they are members of the opposition or just acquaintances.
If this is the idea of freedom and democracy, then what is oppression? What is the difference with the former Derg regime but just a change in the people who dictate? Ethiopia is heading to a dark future and we must stand together to prevent this from happening. Let’s think of the coming generations and what we are planning to leave behind when we pass on.
By Jonas Tameru