Cabinet rejects police request for telecoms data

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Lebanon’s Cabinet unanimously rejected a police request for wider access to the country’s telecoms data, Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Wednesday.

He said Cabinet, however, agreed to give police access to the content of text messages of “suspicious” cell phone numbers.

The controversial request by the Internal Security Forces topped Cabinet’s agenda during a meeting at the presidential palace in Baabda, north of Beirut.

The ISF says it needs the data to investigate the October assassination of Lebanon’s top security chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan.

Whether the ISF-Information Branch should be able to access telecoms data has become a contentious issue between March 8 and the March 14 opposition.

March 14 politicians back the ISF’s request, while March 8 politicians oppose it.

Sehnaoui, who has refused to approve the ISF’s request for new data, had asked the government to make a final decision on the matter Wednesday.

In a letter to the Cabinet, Sehnaoui said the Telecoms Ministry considers the ISF’s request to be a violation of privacy and constitutional rights.

The ISF asked for similar data after a failed assassination attempt against Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in April.

 

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