‘Government seeking to purchase hacking technology of grave concern’ – PN

Opposition ‘demands answers from the prime Minister’ • MZPN ‘appalled by government interest in hacking services and technology’

The Opposition expressed its grave concern at the news that the Government was seeking to purchase hacking technology that enabled it to spy on citizens’ private emails and internet activity.

“This is not what the people were promised. People do not want a big brother Government that spies on them. And the Opposition will give a voice to people’s concerns,” the PN said.

The Opposition commented that the government had “a track record of doing things in secret”.

“Whether it is its secret deals with the Żonqor developers, with Electrogas, with Azerbaijan’s SOCAR or with Henley & Partners, it always operates in secrecy. Even PL Deputy Leader Toni Abela admitted that the Government is making people rich by operating in secrecy. Now it wants to spy on citizens. There are fundamental freedoms at stake, such as the right to privacy. And the Opposition will defend fundamental freedoms,” it said.

The Opposition called on the Prime Minister to explain who gave the authorisation for the Malta Security Service to buy hacking technology for the Government of Malta.

“I expect the Prime Minister to come clean, and publicly explain what he is doing and why. He must also explain his personal involvement in this affair,” PN leader Simon Busuttil said.

He added that whilst the public deserved an immediate explanation, he would raise this issue at the next meeting of the Security Committee which has been scheduled for Monday July 20.

MZPN – the PN’s youth forum – said the media reports were shocking.

“It requires an in-depth, thorough explanation by Government to assure that Maltese citizens are not subject to such oppression. Such clear evidence of concerns raised cannot be simply brushed off.

“This Labour administration, in its short yet rather eventful term so far, has time and time again proven that it willing to act behind people's back in order to attain its objectives.

“This Labour administration has also shown that it is comfortable with even putting forward legislation that causes grave concerns on the protection of data of Maltese citizens.”

MZPN said that the emails directly implicated Muscat as the sender of the email – Alberta director Duncan Barbaro Sant – claimed having close relations with the Prime Minister.

“These secret emails leaked by Wikileaks show how this Labour Government considered the possibility of being able to attack communication equipment of Maltese individuals, such as personal computers, tablets and smartphones giving access to emails, messages, private conversations, screenshots and camera snapshots. 

“That Maltese citizens in this day and age should be subject to hacking, spying and eavesdropping by its own Government is unheard of, especially in a modern, European, democratic state.”

MZPN urged Government “to come clean on this atrocity and perhaps for the first time since its election, prove that the people's interests come before its own. It seems that the only thing Joseph Muscat brought back from Azerbaijan so far is their expertise in oppressiveness and dictatorial governance. Maltese citizens want no big brother”.