• SpywarePegasus Project Shows the Need for Real Device Security, Accountability and Redress for those Facing State-Sponsored Malware

    By Cindy Cohn

    It is no surprise that people around the world are angry to learn that surveillance software sold by NSO Group to governments has been found on cellphones worldwide. People all around the world deserve the right to have a private conversation. Communication privacy is a human right, a civil liberty, and one of the centerpieces of a free society. And while we all deserve basic communications privacy, the journalists, NGO workers, and human rights and democracy activists among us are especially at risk, since they are often at odds with powerful governments.

  • SpywareSpyware: Why the Booming Surveillance Tech Industry Is Vulnerable to Corruption and Abuse

    By Christian Kemp

    The latest revelations about NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware are the latest indication that the spyware industry is out of control, with licensed customers free to spy on political and civilian targets as well as suspected criminals. We may be heading to a world in which no phone is safe from such attacks.

  • Pegasus affairGrowing Unease in Israel over Pegasus Case

    Israel is worried that the Pegasus spyware revelations may turn a PR black eye into a diplomatic crisis. Israel never exhibited any qualms about dealing with and selling arms to pretty unsavory regimes, but such deals were typically kept secret. The fact that the Israeli Ministry of Defense authorized the NSO Group to sell the Pegasus spyware to regimes which then used it to spy on opposition figures, civil society activists, and journalists – and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, to track Jamal Khashoggi and kill him — has raised questions about what did the government know and when did it know it.

  • SurveillanceJournalists, Activists among 50,000 Targets of Israeli Spyware: Reports

    Israeli cyber firm NSO Group claims that its Pegasus surveillance malware is sold to governments so they can better track terrorists and criminals, but many of the 45 governments deploying the surveillance software use it to track journalists, opposition politicians, and civil society activists. Some of these governments are authoritarian (for example, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, UAE, Saudi Arabia). Other are democracies (for example, India, Mexico, South Africa). The only EU member country to deploy the surveillance malware is Hungary, which places it in violation of the EU’s strict privacy and surveillance regulations.

  • ExtremismWho is Germany's 'New Right'?

    By Ben Knight

    For the first time ever, the Bundesverfassungsschutz (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, included a section on the “New Right” in its annual catalog of political extremists in Germany. The BfV said that the tag refers to an “informal network” of individuals and organizations which don’t openly organize or call for violent attacks, but rather focus on nurturing a far-right “cultural revolution” which threatens the German constitution and democratic institutions. The BfV says that the New Right movement promotes racist, xenophobic, and anti-democratic ideologies by subtle and slick professional means.

  • SurveillancePrivacy Activists Challenge Clearview AI in EU

    European privacy groups accuse the facial scan company of stockpiling biometric data on billions of people without their permission. The firm’s database contains images “scraped” from websites, including social media.

  • ARGUMENT: Cyberspace spooksCovert Action, Espionage, and the Intelligence Contest in Cyberspace

    In recent months, the world learned that China carried out an indiscriminate hack against Microsoft Exchange, while Russia hacked U.S. information technology firm SolarWinds and used cyber capabilities in an attempt to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Michael Poznansky writes that the attacks raise important questions about how best to characterize these and other kinds of disruptive cyber events. Cyber-enabled espionage and covert cyber operations both qualify as intelligence activities, but they are also distinct in key ways from one another. “Failing to appreciate these differences impedes our ability to understand the richness of cyber operations, underlying motivations, the prospect for signaling, and metrics of success,” he writes.

  • ExtremismGermany’s Spy Chiefs Urge Court to Agree on Monitoring of Far-Right AfD

    By Jamie Dettmer

    Germany’s domestic intelligence agency says there’s sufficient evidence to warrant labeling the country’s main opposition party, the populist far-right Alternative for Germany, AfD, as “anti-constitutional” and an organization hostile to democracy.

  • ExtremismGermany’s AfD Party Placed under Surveillance as “Extremism Suspect”

    Germany’s interior intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has classified the entire Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party as an “extremism suspected case.” The two largest parties in Germany, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party are members of the governing coalition, making the populist, far-right AfD the leader of the opposition in the Bundestag. The designation allows the BfV to use additional surveillance powers given to it by the Bundestag last year, including monitoring email communications and recruiting party members as informants.

  • SurveillanceDeployment of Emotion-Recognition Technologies in China Threatens Human Rights

    Emotion recognition is a biometric technology which purports to be able to analyze a person’s inner emotional state. These biometric applications are used by law enforcement authorities to identify suspicious individuals, and by schools to monitor how well a student is paying attention in class. China is deploying the technology to allow the authorities to better monitor forbidden anti-regime thoughts among citizens who are subject to police interrogation or investigation.

  • SurveillanceEFF Urges Federal Appeals Court to Rehear Case Involving Unconstitutional Baltimore Aerial Surveillance Program

    By Nathaniel Sobel

    In May, the Baltimore Police Department launched its Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) Pilot Program. For six months, three surveillance aircrafts operated by a private company called Persistent Surveillance Systems flew over Baltimore—covering about 90 percent of the city—for 12 hours every day. The planes produced images that even at a resolution of “one pixel per person” allowed the police to track individual’s movements over multi-day periods, especially when combined with the police’s networks of more than 800 ground-based surveillance cameras and automated license plate readers.

  • SurveillanceEU Uses Chinese Technology Linked to Muslim Internment Camps in Xinjiang

    By James Franey

    In the fight against coronavirus, the EU is using thermal cameras produced by Chinese tech giant Hikvision. The firm has been linked to the oppression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang province.

  • Politicizing intelligenceDHS Intelligence Official Says He Was Pressured to Stop Providing Assessments of Russia’s Threat to U.S. Election

    Brian Murphy, the former head of DHS’s intelligence and analysis unit, said in a whistle-blower complaint  made public on Wednesday that he was pressured by acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf to stop providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the upcoming U.S. election. In his complaint, Murphy also says that acting DHS secretary Kenneth Cuccinelli directed agency analysts to downplay threats from violent white supremacy to make the threat “appear less severe,” and include information on violent “left-wing” groups and antifa. Murphy says that Wolf and Cuccinelli — both Trump appointees not yet confirmed by the Senate — appeared to want to shape DHS’s public announcements so they accord with the president’s language and political interests, even if modifying the department’s public announcements in this way contradicted the department’s own intelligence analysis.

  • SurveillanceNSA’s Post-9/11 Mass Surveillance Program, Exposed by Snowden, Illegal: Court

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence’s surveillance program exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden was unlawful, and possibly unconstitutional. Critics of the program say that in addition to violating privacy rights, the program’s was ineffective: Billions of phone calls and email messages were collected and scanned over the years, but only a handful of terrorism suspects were seized, and even fewer were convicted.

  • School surveillanceSchools’ Facial Recognition Technology Problematic, Should Be Banned: Experts

    Facial recognition technology should be banned for use in schools, according to a new study. The research reveals inaccuracy, racial inequity, and increased surveillance are the touchstones of a flawed technology.