What are the limits? Abin’s biggest scandal reopens discussion about intelligence activities
Intelligence activity, in any corner of the world, has discretion as its primary function. Under anonymity, Secret Service agents infiltrate events, follow the steps of suspects, and, silently, gather strategic information to advise the President of the Republic. In Brazil, however, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin) experiences the opposite situation. Entangled in its biggest spying scandal, the organization has been in the spotlight since it became the target of an investigation by the Federal Police, which is investigating whether there was an illegal monitoring scheme during Jair Bolsonaro’s government. The case, revealed by GLOBO in March last year, reopened the discussion about the role and limits of the agency’s actions.
The use of the FirstMile spy program, which monitored the location of cell phones across the country by exploiting a breach in the telephone system, led the PF to launch an investigation that discovered that the web was much broader and may have monitored parliamentarians, lawyers, ministers of the Federal Supreme Court, embassy representatives, and journalists, among others. Among them is former federal deputy Jean Wyllys, a declared opponent of the former president, and his son Carlos Bolsonaro, who was the target of an operation last week on suspicion of being part of the “political core” of the alleged scheme. Both deny any wrongdoing and say that the investigation is the result of “persecution. ”.
For Rafael Zanatta, director of DataPrivacy Brasil, the use of the tool indicates that the limit of “personalization” of republican activities has been exceeded. The PF investigation points out, for example, that Abin monitored a dinner between former deputies Rodrigo Maia, at the time president of the Chamber, and Joice Hasselmann with a lawyer and Antonio Rueda, then PSL leader. The meeting took place during the internal split in the party that culminated in Bolsonaro’s departure from the party.
You can check out the full participation of the co-director of Data Privacy Brasil in the report written by Dimitrius Dantas and Sarah Teófilo on the O GLOBO website. The text was originally published on 02/04/2024, access via the link.