BEIRUT: Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui voiced relief Thursday that the heated controversy about his refusal to provide security services with telephone communications information was over.
“Luckily [the] data issue cleared, Lebanese people's privacy rights improved consistently after a three-hour struggle at Council of Ministers [Cabinet],” Sehnaoui said on his Twitter feed.
Recent leaks of an alleged plot to assassinate a high-level security official, possibly head of the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, have highlighted the issue of so-called “telecoms data,” which enables the tracking of telephone communications.
Security services said they needed the data as part of their investigations into the plot but Sehnaoui rejected the request, citing a violation of the law, which does not allow for all the records to be taken except in a state of emergency.
The law currently permits telecoms data to be transferred to state security bodies, but the information is restricted to the location and movements of a caller in a certain area.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet agreed to form a committee, headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to discuss amending wiretapping Law 240 and establish a mechanism to regulate the work of the wiretapping command center, which was launched in late last year.
From now until the committee finishes its task, the country’s highest judicial bodies will be tasked with approving requests providing data covering the entire country.
“It's good to feel that when you're fighting for the good cause some times you win!” Sehnaoui posted on Twitter.