What have we learned about Panama from the recent bombshells in the Guardian about how the leaders of Obamastan are turning the world into a robotized totalitarian surveillance state? Not that much. We know, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, that the NSA uses a tool called "Boundless Informant" to record and analyse where its intelligence comes from. That tool produces a map, on which Panama is a green country, which means we're among those countries least subject to NSA surveillance. Most interesting country for the NSA in Latin America is not Colombia but Brazil. All this spying and snooping is of course about keeping us safe from terrorists, and everybody knows that Brazil is a hotbed of jihadi activity. Plus Glenn Greenwald lives there.
Does that mean that our communications are safe in this little banana republic? Not at all.
A couple of major leaks ago, we had, if you recall, Cablegate. Tons of US diplomatic cables were leaked to Wikileaks, which published them through various news organizations. The leaker, Bradley Manning, was sold out by a hacker snitch and is undergoing a show trial these days after the Obamistas first tortured him for a couple of years.
Anyway, among those cables were many from the US embassy in Panama. Some of those related how the US was operating a wiretap facility in Panama, named "Matador", from where they were tapping Panamanian phones with the approval of Panama's Supreme Court. This all would supposedly be part of the US imposed "war on drugs". In fact, the NSA didn't have to do any phone tapping here; the DEA was already doing that under the usual highly dubious legal cover of a Supreme Court that these same embassy cables described as a "criminal racket".
Shortly after Ricardo Martinelli took office, these cables show, he tried to get his hands on the Matador wiretapping program to tap the phones of personal, business and political adversaries. Your Bananama Republic wrote about that extensively, here. Instead of letting Martinelli use the American facility to tap phones, they moved the program and it was eventually shut down, reportedly.
Couple of years later, in April of this year, Canada based organization "Citizen Lab" released its report, "For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying".
Citizen Lab has been tracking and mapping the spread and use of the so-called "Finfisher" software. Finfisher is commercial espionage and surveillance software that was developed by a British company called "Gamma International".
The FinFisher software suite is a kind of the commercial equivalent of the NSA's Prism program. It's sold to dictators and rogue governments who use it to track dissidents, opposition groups and activists.
Citizen Lab has been tracing Finfisher activity and found a new command and control server in Panama. That, most likely, means that someone in Panama bought the software and is using it here.
Based on the IP addresses provided in the report, we were able to establish that this spy server is hosted by a company called "Cyber Cast International, S.A.". They have a website, here, and then another one where they offer offshore hosting services:
CCI Hosting is the leader in Offshore Hosting since 2002. We focus in Total Privacy Solutions offering shared hosting, vps, dedicated server and server colocation from our facility in Panama city. Panama's Telecommunication Infrastructure, Privacy Advantages and Financial Benefits offer a great option for people who are doing business over the Internet.
We asked them by email to confirm that they are hosting a spy software command and control server, and for whom they are hosting that server, but did not receive a reply (Why anyone would, by the way, want to host a website in Panama with its retarded press laws and a president who advocates wacky internet censorship measures is beyond us. But never mind).
Citizen Lab, asked if their research showed anything about the volume of spying done from the CCI hosted server, replied:
"We can't see how many infected computers or devices might be associated with the server, and we're not sure who might be behind it."
The logical assumption would obviously be that after the debacle of getting his hands on the Matador program, Martinelli simply bought his own spy facility. It would probably all be highly illegal, and hosting vast amounts of data obtained by tapping phones and other communications on a shadowy commercial server isn't exactly reassuring either for how Martinelli and his spies deal with privacy sensitive information. Then again, the Martinellistas are known for using intercepted phone calls for propaganda purposes.
But Martinelli being behind it is not the only possibility.
It might also be that a third party (another country, or some big corporation) has acquired the software and is hosting the command server in Panama. In that case, a foreign and/or corporate espionage operation is being run on Panamanian soil.
So, no matter which way you slice it, this FinFisher server operating in Panama is probably illegal. And, just like in Obamastan, none of our communications are safe.