Robert Alai in trouble with NIS Following kahawa tungu blog – FULL STORY

The National Intelligence
Service (NIS) may have
acquired a stealth surveillance
system from controversial
Italian-based company,
Hacking Team, to intercept
private communication and
bring down websites deemed
offensive to the government.
According to a trove of e-mails
released by WikiLeaks — an
online whistleblower that
publishes secret information
largely exposing government
and corporate misconduct —
the spy system enables NIS
unfettered access to people’s
information, infect and
monitor computers and
smartphones.
Hacking Team has been facing
criticism from privacy
campaigners for supplying
surveillance software to some
of the world’s most oppressive
regimes.
Interior Ministry spokesman
Mwenda Njoka declined to
comment on the matter.
The system is “designed to
attack, infect and monitor
target PCs and smartphones in
a stealth way,” according to
emails between a
representative of the Hacking
Team based in Singapore —
described as a “key account
manager in charge of your
country (Kenya)” — and a
supposed NIS operative in
Nairobi on April 27.
“It allows you to covertly
collect data from the most
common desktop operating
systems, such as: Windows OS,
Linux. Furthermore, Remote
Control System can monitor all
modern smartphones: Android
OS, Blackberry, Windows
Phone. Once a target is
infected, you can access all the
information, including: Skype
calls, Facebook, Twitter,
WhatsApp, Line, Viber and
many more. To protect your
operations, resistance
and invisibility to the major
endpoint protection systems is
integral to the solution,” the
company’s representative
further states.
GREAT PROOF
According to the e-mails,
Hacking Team is
headquartered in Milan, Italy,
but has offices in Singapore
and Washington DC.
To test the efficacy of the
system, NIS had on May 6
emailed Hacking Team to
bring down Kahawa Tungu, a
website associated with
controversial blogger Robert
Alai “as a great proof” of the
company’s capability.
“There is a website we would
wish you urgently bring down,
either by defacement or by
making it completely
inaccessible… Please let me
know if this is possible, and
how soon you can have it
done,” the NIS operative tells
the Hacking Team
representative.
Additionally, the system would
enable the NIS to access
documents from target
computers even if they have
not been sent to another
device through the internet. It
would also monitor the social
networks of targeted people
without them knowing.
The NIS agent was introduced
to the hacking company by an
executive director of a Nairobi-
based communication solutions
provider who also sells pay TV
services and was working as
an intermediary for the NIS
and Hacking Team since
October last year.
“I herein this mail copy (NIS
agent) who works with the
National Intelligence Agency in
Kenya particularly in the
department that requires your
solution,” he says in an email
sent on October 29 last year.
In an e-mail on May 6, the NIS
agent appears convinced by
the system’s capabilities,
commenting that “all looks
great and we would wish to
move forward”.
WikiLeaks has released more
than one million emails
involving Hacking Team and
affecting many countries.
Some of the company’s
customers include Sudan,
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain,
Morocco, Egypt, India, Russia
and the USA, among others.
Section 42 of the NIS Act
provides that the Director
General of NIS must obtain an
ex-parte court warrant to
monitor and intercept
communications of a person he
has reasonable grounds to
believe poses a threat to
national security.
Section 45 of the Act provides
that once issued, the warrant
“may authorise any member of
the service to obtain any
information, material, record,
document or thing” by
entering and searching
premises, monitoring
communication and install,
maintain or remove anything.
The Security Laws
(Amendment) Act, 2014 that
were passed last year had
initially sought to empower
the Director-General of NIS or
his representatives “to do
anything” without the need
for a court warrant. This, it
was argued, would enable NIS
to secretly acquire information
from devices and social
accounts belonging to people
suspected of involvement in
terrorism activities.
DELETED PROVISION
The provision was, however,
deleted in the final text of the
Act following a public outcry
and opposition from rights
groups. The NIS is still
required to obtain a warrant
to monitor and intercept
private communications.
Kenya has been grappling
with the Al-Shabaab terror
threat, prompting some to
justify eavesdropping of
private conversations.
However, the NIS has also for
years been thought to be
secretly spying on Kenyans.
Nonetheless, new encryption
technology, including widely
available mobile phone
applications, is also proving to
be a headache to security
agencies all over the world.
WikiLeaks was founded in
2006 by Australian computer
programmer and publisher
Julian Assange and thrives on
publishing secret information,
news leaks, and classified
media from governments and
anonymous sources. The
website became famous in
2010 when it published
millions of US diplomatic
cables.
The publishing of the cables
forced the US government to
apologise to world leaders
about their unflattering
contents.

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