dmcdev + privacy   806

CPJ Safety Advisory: Pegasus spyware used to target journalists, civil society
In a report released by Citizen Lab two weeks ago, researchers found that Pegasus - a mobile remote spyware tool - was present in more than 45 countries worldwide and used against numerous targets in the fields of journalism, human rights, and civil society. Pegasus is the same spyware that was found on the device of an Amnesty International staff, as reported by the NGO in August 2018. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/08/staff-targeted-with-malicious-spyware/ The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) highlights in this post (and in this thread https://twitter.com/pressfreedom/status/1047177006222376960) that the findings serve to remind members of the press of the importance of practicing strong digital security:

"Researchers have previously identified a number of major Pegasus campaigns, including one against investigative journalists in Mexico, and another against human rights workers in Saudi Arabia. The spyware's presence in 45 countries raises significant implications for journalists, both in terms of their own security as well as the safety of their sources. The spyware gives the attacker the ability to monitor, record, and collect existing and future data from the phone. This includes calls and information from messaging applications and real-time location data. The spyware is able to remotely activate the camera and microphone to surveil the target and their surroundings. Pegasus is designed to be installed on phones running Android, BlackBerry OS, and iOS without alerting the target to its presence. Journalists will likely only know if their phone has been infected if the device is inspected by a tech expert."
otf  pegasus  nsogroup  spyware  surveillance  privacy  awareness 
21 days ago by dmcdev
What Does Private Browsing Mode Do?
Many browsers offer the option to increase the privacy of your session by opening up a "private" or "incognito" window. But what does this actually mean? How much (more) privacy are you really gaining when you browse in "private" mode? Martin Shelton lays out the good and the bad, highlighting some features common across multiple browsers' private modes, some popular misconceptions about their use, and alternative options, such as the Tor Browser.

From the post: "Private browsing means the browser will forget some kinds of information only on your computer...This can be useful for web searches you don’t want saved on your computer, and selectively fighting tracking. It’s a bit like telling your computer to forget everything you put into these tabs and windows, including the cookies and files that websites would ordinarily save locally. But it’s important to remember that connecting to the web means there are other groups involved too...Private browsing mode can be useful for some situations — for automatically shutting down search history so your roommate can’t read it later, or temporarily fighting tracking cookies on the web so advertisers have a tougher time seeing what shoes you want to buy. Depending on your needs, we may want other tools to prevent network snooping, or to let you browse the web more anonymously."
otf  browser  privacy  awareness  private 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
The Uncertain Effects of HTTPS Adoption on Access to Information Worldwide
With the release of Google Chrome version 68, visiting an unencrypted ("HTTP") site will prompt a "not secure" warning. The update reflects the gradual migration from HTTP to the more secure HTTPS encryption protocol, https://letsencrypt.org/stats/#percent-pageloads and while the benefits for users' privacy and security are significant, "the implications of this global trend on Internet filtering and access to information are mixed," writes Berkman Klein Center Research Associate Casey Tilton, as government censors must take an all-or-nothing approach to blocking websites that can result in an "overblocking" of certain sites. In Iran, for example, the move to HTTPS has increased access to information since "the Iranian government has not blocked the entirety of Wikipedia since the platform transitioned to HTTPS in June 2015 despite the censors having blocked hundreds of specific Persian-language articles before 2015." Turkey, however, has blocked Wikipedia in its entirety since April 2017 over "a few offending articles."

"For example, before Wikipedia implemented HTTPS in 2015, governments could filter specific Wikipedia articles while allowing access to the vast majority of content on Wikipedia," Tilton writes. "HTTPS makes this type of fine-tuned filtering very difficult, which poses a challenge to government censors. Now that social media platforms and many news sites are encrypted, censors have a hard decision to make: do they block the entirety of popular platforms like Wikipedia, Facebook, or Medium because of a few offending articles or pages? Or do they allow all of the content to remain accessible?...If the current popularity and ubiquity of social media platforms are any indication, the overall share of content hosted by centralized, encrypted social media and publishing platforms will likely continue to grow in the future. And if so, it will become increasingly difficult for a government to censor the content it deems objectionable while avoiding the collateral damage that comes with blocking entire platforms."
otf  https  chrome  encryption  security  privacy  access  berkman 
10 weeks ago by dmcdev
Amnesty International staff targeted with malicious spyware
An Amnesty International employee was the target of a "sophisticated surveillance campaign," the group believes, after the employee received a suspicious WhatsApp message containing a link that, if opened, would have installed "Pegasus" - a spyware tool developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli company known for developing the surveillance tool, which is the same one used to target UAE human rights rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, a.k.a. the “Million Dollar Dissident.” https://citizenlab.ca/2016/08/million-dollar-dissident-iphone-zero-day-nso-group-uae/

Amnesty: "In early June 2018, an Amnesty International staff member received a suspicious WhatsApp message in Arabic. The text contained details about an alleged protest outside the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C., followed by a link to a website. Investigations by Amnesty International’s technology team revealed that clicking the link would have, according to prior knowledge, installed 'Pegasus', a sophisticated surveillance tool developed by the Israel-based company NSO Group...The WhatsApp message was sent to Amnesty International in a week when the organization was campaigning for the release of six women’s rights activists detained in Saudi Arabia...The link, if clicked, would have allowed the Pegasus software to infect the user’s smartphone, tracking keystrokes, taking control of the phone’s cameras and microphone and accessing contact lists. Amnesty International’s investigation also discovered that another Saudi Arabia rights activist received a similar malicious message."

Read more at the blog post linked above or access Amnesty's full research report here https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/08/amnesty-international-among-targets-of-nso-powered-campaign/.
otf  surveillance  spyware  amnesty  ngo  privacy  nsogroup  mena  saudi 
11 weeks ago by dmcdev
Apple Comes Under Media Fire in China
Last week, Chinese state media - through at least five media outlets both in print and television - began criticizing Apple for not filtering out "prohibited content" on its iMessage platform, while also allowing "illegal gambling apps" to flourish on the Apple App Store, the Wall Street Journal reports.

WSJ: "China’s state-controlled news agency Xinhua and at least four state-supported media outlets have published criticism of Apple for not doing enough to filter banned content on its iMessage service. State broadcaster CCTV joined in Tuesday on another front, saying Apple’s app store allowed illegal gambling apps disguised as official lottery apps. Apple declined to comment on the media criticism, but pointed to tools on iMessage that can help users filter or block spam and other unwanted content...On Monday, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and other top government agencies said they would impose new requirements requiring mobile-phone makers to include spam-filtering features...In its news story, Xinhua quoted experts saying Apple could technically intercept and block messages with prohibited content, but chooses not to because it doesn’t want to be seen as infringing on user privacy....Apple has promoted iMessage as a secure way for users of its iPhone, iPad and other devices to communicate, via encrypted messages that only the sender and receiver can access. The company says it can’t decrypt the messages and doesn’t log any messaging content."

- Also in China news: Zhuang Rongwen has been named head of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country's central internet regulator, Reuters reports https://uk.reuters.com/article/china-internet/china-names-new-head-of-internet-regulator-state-media-idUKL4N1US0BD. Zhuang replaces Xu Lin, a former Shanghai propaganda chief who will likely take over as head of the CPC's international propaganda division, per the South China Morning Post https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2157762/beijing-names-new-internet-watchdog-china-keeps-door. The appointment follows on Monday's announced bribery charges against former CAC head Lu Wei https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-indicts-former-top-internet-regulator-on-corruption-charges-1532956836.

- China's surveillance extends abroad, keep track of Chinese Muslims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia (WSJ). https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-surveillance-expands-to-muslims-making-mecca-pilgrimage-1533045703
otf  china  asia  apple  censor  gfw  privacy  security 
11 weeks ago by dmcdev
Beijing’s Big Brother Tech Needs African Faces
Exporting Chinese technology to developing markets like Zimbabwe will not only increase the surveillance capabilities of those recipient governments, but will also grant Chinese technology developers "a vital edge" in improving their system's ability to operate as designed - unimpeded by the effects of racial bias, writes Amy Hawkins for Foreign Policy. As "the first Chinese AI project in Africa," a start-up called CloudWalk Technology is poised to soon begin providing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a multifaceted surveillance system that goes beyond things like CCTV cameras: "smart financial systems, airport, railway, and bus station security, and a national facial database will all be part of the project."

FP: "The agreement is currently on hold until Zimbabwe’s elections on July 30. But if it goes through, it will enable Zimbabwe, a country with a bleak record on human rights, to replicate parts of the surveillance infrastructure that have made freedoms so limited in China. And by gaining access to a population with a racial mix far different from China’s, CloudWalk will be better able to train racial biases out of its facial recognition systems—a problem that has beleaguered facial recognition companies around the world and which could give China a vital edge. The CloudWalk deal is built on the back of a long-standing relationship between former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime, seen by China as an ideological ally, and Beijing...The CloudWalk deal is the first Chinese AI project in Africa. Google is opening its first Africa AI research center in Ghana this year, but Eric Olander, founder of the China Africa Project—a podcast and online resource that examines the relationship between China and Africa—noted that many Western companies 'aren’t willing to make that step that the Chinese are willing to do'...The Zimbabwe deal is unique in that as part of the agreement—the value of which CloudWalk declined to share—Harare will send data on millions of black faces to the Chinese company to help train the technology toward darker skin tones. The currency here is data as well as dollars."
otf  china  asia  zimbabwe  africa  export  surveillance  privacy 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Looking Through the Eyes of China’s Surveillance State
On his daily commute in Shanghai, New York Times journalist Paul Mozur passes "more than 200" surveillance cameras in 30 minutes. But who (if anyone) is actually behind these cameras? Who are the watchers, and are they actually watching? And do those super dystopian facial recognition sunglasses actually work? Mozur takes look inside, including by trying on the glasses.

"I pass more than 200 on my 30-minute commute in Shanghai. After a while, they mostly blend into the background. But when spotting a new one, I wonder about them. Is anyone watching? Is a computer parsing the feed? Is it even on? Trying to get to the bottom of these questions can be infuriating. Chinese people are often unwilling to talk about their run-ins with the police. And the authorities are usually under standing orders not to talk to foreign journalists about much of anything, let alone cutting-edge technologies that snoop on criminals. So when I got the chance to see the world through the eyes of a police camera, it was oddly exhilarating. As it goes with reporting in China, often you just have to show up, camp out and hope for the best. In my case, patience and a hefty dose of luck paid off."

Mozur provides some additional commentary in this thread. https://twitter.com/paulmozur/status/1018755989024075776
otf  china  asia  surveillance  censorship  privacy  gfw 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras
"With millions of cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a high-tech authoritarian future," writes Paul Mozur for the New York Times in a piece that runs down just how advanced the Chinese surveillance state is, its capabilities and limitations, and where things are headed. As Mozur writes, "China is reversing the commonly held vision of technology as a great democratizer, bringing people more freedom and connecting them to the world. In China, it has brought control."

Despite its alarming advances, things aren't exactly standardized yet - but that might not matter, Mozur writes, as the mere perception of control may be enough to fill current gaps: "In some cities, cameras scan train stations for China’s most wanted. Billboard-size displays show the faces of jaywalkers and list the names of people who don’t pay their debts. Facial recognition scanners guard the entrances to housing complexes. Already, China has an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras — four times as many as the United States...Even so, China’s ambitions outstrip its abilities. Technology in place at one train station or crosswalk may be lacking in another city, or even the next block over. Bureaucratic inefficiencies prevent the creation of a nationwide network. For the Communist Party, that may not matter. Far from hiding their efforts, Chinese authorities regularly state, and overstate, their capabilities. In China, even the perception of surveillance can keep the public in line."

if you want the TL;DR, Mozur has a useful Twitter thread explaining some key observations from the piece. https://twitter.com/paulmozur/status/1016152508484292608

Also in China/surveillance news: Megha Rajagopalan takes a deep dive for BuzzFeed on the extensive, repressive surveillance tactics employed by the Chinese government on ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims in the country's western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) - and beyond. Rajagopalan and BuzzFeed "interviewed 10 people in the exiled Uighur community who were targeted by Chinese state security after they moved overseas," "...shed[ding] light on the methods and processes the rank and file of China’s security apparatus use in surveilling Uighur exiles and fomenting deep-seated mistrust within their communities." https://www.buzzfeed.com/meghara/china-uighur-spies-surveillance?utm_term=.uiY8Lbo6W#.bj6GgEV6Z
otf  china  asia  surveillance  privacy  gfw  ai  xinjiang  uyghur 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Russia's telecoms security push hits snag - it needs foreign help
Under a new law that took effect July 1, Russian telcos are required to store more user data, including call logs and text messages, for potential law enforcement access. The internet companies need to store such data for six months. But the companies have had a tough time complying with the new law: In addition to an issue with government-issued certificates required to use the relevant storage devices https://meduza.io/en/news/2018/07/03/russia-s-telecoms-face-new-anti-terrorism-requirements-but-almost-nobody-can-comply-thanks-to-a-regulatory-bottleneck, operators will need to use foreign tech made by American and Chinese companies if they are to comply with the law, going against President Vladimir Putin's desire that homegrown alternatives be used to store the data.

Maria Kolomychenko and Polina Nikolskaya report for Reuters: "Russian telecoms operators will have to use foreign technology to comply with a law on storing data, two industry sources with knowledge of the matter said, even though Vladimir Putin told his government to ensure local companies produced the equipment...But faced with a tight deadline to start storing the vast amounts of information, and in the absence of suitable Russian hardware, operators will have no choice but to use equipment made by foreign firms including Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Huawei, according to the sources. In having to resort to buying in hardware from abroad, Russia is encountering the same issues as other countries including the United States: the tech sector is a multinational endeavor and developing sophisticated systems using only home-grown gear is fraught with difficulties...Adding to the problems besetting implementation of the law, no Russian telecoms operator has the necessary infrastructure in place, despite a July 1 deadline to start storing users’ data, according to the two telecoms industry sources."
russia  surveillance  privacy  awareness  data  datalocalization 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Russia: ‘alternate Internet’ could be built, but no plans to do so
Russia has no plans to built an 'alternate Internet,' according to remarks made by Ilya Rogachev, the director of Russia's Foreign Ministry’s New Challenges and Threats Department, Meduza reports. Rogachev "assure[d] the international community that Moscow has no plans to isolate the RuNet or build an alternate Internet, but it also wants people to know that Russia has the 'technical, financial, intellectual, and otherwise' capabilities to" do so, while suggesting that perhaps Brazil, India, China, or South Africa might take up the task instead. Meduza notes that back in November 2017, "Russia’s Security Council instructed the Foreign Ministry to engage Brazil, India, China, and South Africa on the question of creating a separate, independent Domain Name System."

Also in Russia news: Russia's telecoms face new ‘anti-terrorism’ requirements, but almost nobody can comply thanks to a regulatory bottleneck [Meduza] https://meduza.io/en/news/2018/07/03/russia-s-telecoms-face-new-anti-terrorism-requirements-but-almost-nobody-can-comply-thanks-to-a-regulatory-bottleneck
Bureaucracy at work: Under a new decree that took effect on July 1, internet companies like Yandex, Vkontakte, and Mail.ru are compelled to store more user data for potential law enforcement access, including "the correspondence of users who register their accounts or log in from Russian IP addresses...use a Russian telephone number when registering...are located in Russia, based on the GPS coordinates provided by their mobile devices, [or] are based in Russia, according to Russian federal agents and police." https://meduza.io/en/short/2018/06/28/this-is-all-you-have-to-do-for-russian-internet-companies-to-make-your-every-word-accessible-to-the-fsb. But some red tape is getting in the way: "Russian telecoms are now under hefty regulations requiring them to store six-month archives of all customers’ audio records, but they still don’t have the government-issued certificates needed to operate the necessary storage devices, according to the newspaper Kommersant...To complicate matters further, the Russian government has threatened to impose fines on telecoms that gather audio records on uncertified storage equipment."
otf  russia  surveillance  privacy 
july 2018 by dmcdev
This is all you have to do for Russian Internet companies to make your every word accessible to the FSB
Under new requirements due to take effect July 1, the bar requiring Russian internet companies to store user data will get lower: companies like Yandex, Vkontakte, and Mail.ru "will store the correspondence of users who register their accounts or log in from Russian IP addresses...use a Russian telephone number when registering...are located in Russia, based on the GPS coordinates provided by their mobile devices, [or] are based in Russia, according to Russian federal agents and police." These companies will need to make archives of user activity (going back six months) available to law enforcement if asked under the order signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (Russian). http://publication.pravo.gov.ru/Document/View/0001201806280001?index=1&rangeSize=1

Also in Russia: the largely unsuccessful nature of the government's attempts to block Telegram were confirmed according to new research by the Russian company Mediascope, which found that the app's users in Russia barely changed from April 2018 (3.72 million) to May (3.67 million). https://meduza.io/en/brief/2018/06/29/the-real-russia-today
otf  russia  surveillance  privacy  data 
june 2018 by dmcdev
.@brave Introduces Beta of Private Tabs with Tor for Enhanced Privacy while Browsing
Brave, an open source web browser than comes with built-in ad-blocking, announced a new beta release (Brave 0.23) with an experimental "Private Tabs" feature that incorporates Tor functionality, offering users an option for increased browsing privacy and security. This way, within the same browsing window you can run "normal" tabs directly alongside tabs utilizing Tor. Brave is not only incorporating Tor into its browser, but also helping expand the Tor network but running relays, which are volunteer-run and essential to the Tor network.

From Brave: "This new functionality, currently in beta, integrates Tor into the browser and gives users a new browsing mode that helps protect their privacy not only on device but over the network. Private Tabs with Tor help protect Brave users from ISPs (Internet Service Providers), guest Wi-Fi providers, and visited sites that may be watching their Internet connection or even tracking and collecting IP addresses, a device’s Internet identifier...Private Tabs with Tor default to DuckDuckGo as the search engine, but users have the option to switch to one of Brave’s other nineteen search providers...In addition, Brave is contributing back to the Tor network by running Tor relays. We are proud to be adding bandwidth to the Tor network, and intend to add more bandwidth in the coming months. Our relays can be viewed at: https://metrics.torproject.org/rs.html#search/family:FBC2856A48705F3ED17E504F8FC89EC6433ED25D"

You can download Brave and try out the new feature here: https://brave.com/download/
otf  tor  brave  browser  privacy  security  anonymity 
june 2018 by dmcdev
Ecuador is fighting crime using Chinese surveillance technology
"Ecuador has introduced a security system using monitoring technology from China, including facial recognition, as it tries to bring down its crime rate and improve emergency management, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.

A network of cameras has been installed across the South American nation’s 24 provinces – keeping watch on its population of 16.4 million people – using a system known as the ECU911 Integrated Security Service, Xinhua reported.

Used by the country’s police, armed forces and fire brigade, it went into operation in November 2016 and has an emergency response and monitoring system.

“The hardware we have ... allows us to use facial recognition technology. We have already applied it in Cuenca and at the airports in Quito and Guayaquil,” Sixto Heras, deputy director of the service, was quoted by Xinhua as saying...

At the Laboratory for Comprehensive Security Systems – part of the ECU911 headquarters in Quito – experiments are being run to turn footage from Chinese surveillance cameras into data,

Juan Carlos Leon, director of technological innovation at the lab, told Xinhua.

A system to locate mobile phones has also been introduced."
ecuador  china  export  surveillance  privacy  awareness  southamerica 
june 2018 by dmcdev
Zambia: New Rule Compels Whatsapp Admins in Zambia to Register Groups or Be Arrested
Zambia's Information and Communications Technology (ZICTA) announced last week that WhatApp group chat admins will need to register their groups with the state and "set up codes of ethics or risk being arrested if there is a breach," Nahashon Musungu reports for AllAfrica.

In announcing the new requirement, ZICTA head Mofyta Chisala said: "We are coming up with a law where now every administrator must be registered so that he can put ethics or codes of conduct for anyone who is going to be on that blog because at the end of the day, we are going to arrest that person who created the WhatsApp group or the editor or co-odinator of the blog and that should not be the end game."

The report notes that this news follows on a similar move made in Uganda, where that country's parliament passed a law that would charge citizens about 200 Ugandan Shillings (.052 USD) for using both WhatsApp and Facebook. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-44315675
otf  africa  zambia  whatsapp  privacy  uganda  FOE 
june 2018 by dmcdev
Revealed: the advanced surveillance ‘black tech’ within reach of China’s police
The China International Exhibition on Police Equipment is "something of a one-stop shop" for surveillance technology catered to Chinese law enforcement professionals in search of the newest, most advanced "black tech," as the surveillance technologies are known, with booths boasting of their products' abilities to crack phone passwords, monitor targets' calls and messages, and even crack the security of Apple's iOS operating system. for example.

Reuters reports: "The fair underscores the extent to which China’s security forces are using technology to monitor and punish behaviour that runs counter to the ruling Communist Party. That sort of monitoring – both offline and online – is stoking concerns from human rights groups about the development of a nationwide surveillance system to quell dissent...At the fair, Reuters also saw stalls offering cute-looking robots, equipped with artificial intelligence systems to detect criminals, as well as an array of drones, smart glasses, DNA database software and facial-recognition cameras...A big selling point of the technology, according to one policeman from the western region of Xinjiang who was eyeing a Hisign scanner, was its claimed ability to get data from Apple’s iOS operating system, used in products like the widely popular iPhone. 'We are actually using these kinds of scanners in Xinjiang already, but I am interested in this one as it claims to be more successful with iOS phones than other brands,' said the policeman, surnamed Gu, who travelled 3,000km to attend the fair. He declined to provide his full name."
otf  china  surveillance  privacy  asia 
may 2018 by dmcdev
Last-Minute GDPR Checklist for Civil Society Organisations
If you've been avoiding your inbox or have just grown numb to the chorus of "We've updated our Privacy Policy" messages, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into force tomorrow, and everyone - including civil society orgs (CSOs) - is working to ensure compliance under the new rules. Luckily, Tactical Tech has put together a nifty guide for CSOs to get their GDPR ducks in a compliant row.

The guide explains what the GDPR is, provides a useful checklist on requirements and how to comply, whether you need to (and how to) update your data use and privacy policies, and how precisely consent from users can be obtained under the new regs, and also includes a handy GDPR term glossary. Check it out and embrace the GDPR.
otf  gdpr  privacy 
may 2018 by dmcdev
China: Big Data Fuels Crackdown in Minority Region
China is using big data to run a "predictive policing" surveillance program targeting residents of the western Xinjiang province, home to the oppressed ethnic minority Uyghur Muslim population. Human Rights Watch reports: "The program aggregates data about people – often without their knowledge – and flags those it deems potentially threatening to officials. According to interviewees, some of those targeted are detained and sent to extralegal 'political education centers' where they are held indefinitely without charge or trial, and can be subject to abuse. 'For the first time, we are able to demonstrate that the Chinese government’s use of big data and predictive policing not only blatantly violates privacy rights, but also enables officials to arbitrarily detain people,' said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. 'People in Xinjiang can’t resist or challenge the increasingly intrusive scrutiny of their daily lives because most don’t even know about this ‘black box’ program or how it works.'"

"...These actions are part of the regional authorities’ ongoing 'Strike-Hard' campaign, and of President Xi’s 'stability maintenance' and 'enduring peace' drive in the region. Authorities say the campaign targets 'terrorist elements,' but it is in practice far broader, and encompasses anyone suspected of political disloyalty, which in Xinjiang could mean any Uyghur, particularly those who express, even peacefully, their religious or cultural identity."
otf  china  xinjiang  uyghur  privacy  surveillance  data  bigdata  asia 
february 2018 by dmcdev
China's Dystopian Tech Could Be Contagious
There's no reason the type of all-encompassing "social credit" scoring system being rolled out by Beijing couldn't be similarly employed elsewhere, writes urbanist Adam Greenfield for The Atlantic, while exploring the actual implications of living in such a society. The implementation of China's social credit system has been "piecemeal so far," but the Party has spent many years fine tuning what China expert calls "networked authoritarianism," with the social credit system arguably becoming the most comprehensive result of a multitude of repressive policies and systems.

Greenfield writes: "This end-to-end grid of social control is still in its prototype stages, but three things are already becoming clear: First, where it has actually been deployed, it has teeth. Second, it has profound implications for the texture of urban life. And finally, there’s nothing so distinctly Chinese about it that it couldn’t be rolled out anywhere else the right conditions obtain. The advent of social credit portends changes both dramatic and consequential for life in cities everywhere—including the one you might call home...

"As laid out in the proposal [that announced China's plans for the social credit system], the system’s stated purpose was to ride herd on corrupt government officials, penalize the manufacture of counterfeit consumer products, and prevent mislabeled or adulterated food and pharmaceuticals from reaching market. This framing connects the system to a long Confucian tradition of attempts to bolster public rectitude. The means was certainly novel, though, yoking together advanced machine-learning systems, online databases, municipal CCTV networks and the pocket-sized sensor platforms known as smartphones...

"The Chinese genius, if you can call it that, was to take credit scoring as a tool of social discipline to its logical conclusion, building a formal public-private partnership around it. This move extends dominion across the entire range of interactions any member of modern society is more or less compelled to pursue by the very style and structure of contemporary life."
otf  china  socialcredit  social  credit  privacy  awareness  asia  gfw 
february 2018 by dmcdev
Chinese Privacy Concerns Focus on Tech Giants Over Government - @CDT
Privacy is a growing concern in China, and one that citizens are increasingly speaking out about. Aside from pushback over Apple handing over iCloud user date to a state-owned company, search engine Baidu was recently used over its mobile apps' abilities to access user data; Tencent's WeChat was accused of surveilling and analyzing its users conversations (it certainly does, though the company issued a denial); and Alibaba got pushback after it began automatically enrolling its users into its "social credit" system called Sesame Credit. China Digital Times surmises these stories (and several more) in a blog post at the link above.
otf  china  asia  privacy  surveillance 
january 2018 by dmcdev
Attack of the Week: Group Messaging in WhatsApp and Signal - @matthew_d_green
New research released at the Real World Crypto security conference shows some theoretical flaws affecting the security of group messaging apps. However, the attacks would be exceedingly difficult to actually carry out, so there is no real risk here. Executing the attack would require knowing a a group chat's "group ID," which is a random 128-bit number, which would be extremely difficult to attain (let alone guess). As crypto expert (and OTF AC member) Matthew Green writes, the research "takes a close look at the problem of group messaging, and finds that while messengers may be doing fine with normal (pairwise) messaging, group messaging is still kind of a hack.

If all you want is the TL;DR, here’s the headline finding: due to flaws in both Signal and WhatsApp (which I single out because I use them), it’s theoretically possible for strangers to add themselves to an encrypted group chat. However, the caveat is that these attacks are extremely difficult to pull off in practice, so nobody needs to panic."

There are some differences between how this issues affects Signal vs. WhatsApp, as laid out by Green in fuller detail in the full blog post linked to above. The full research (here https://eprint.iacr.org/2017/713.pdf) also looks at messaging app Threema.
otf  messaging  security  e2e  encryption  privacy  whatsapp  signal 
january 2018 by dmcdev
China’s great firewall is rising
A VPN crackdown and looming encryption law signal that China's Great Firewall is only growing higher, The Economist reports. "Limiting the sale and use of VPNs is one aim of a 'clean-up' of the internet industry that began last year and is supposed to be complete by the end of March. Several popular providers based in China have folded under government pressure...As well as closing down suppliers based in China, the government has made it more difficult for people in China to buy foreign VPN services. In July Apple dismayed civil-rights campaigners when it agreed to wipe VPN products from its Chinese app store. The company pulled down more than 600 of them. They are also disappearing from Android stores, though more slowly...

Businesses worry that they may be forced instead to use government-authorised methods, including officially approved VPNs and leased lines, that are less reliable and easier to spy on than their own systems. Those fears will only grow if a new law on encryption, presently being drafted, limits the extent to which companies are permitted to scramble sensitive communications—as some observers fear it might."
otf  china  gfw  censorship  vpn  encryption  privacy 
january 2018 by dmcdev
Internet Users in China Expect to Be Tracked. Now, They Want Privacy.
Privacy has not historically been a strong societal norm in China, but that seems to be changing. The Alibaba-affiliated Ant Financial apologized to users after automatically enrolling its users into its social credit program, causing pushback from users. "he program, called Sesame Credit, tracks personal relationships and behavior patterns to help determine lending decisions.

That Sesame Credit program is part of a broader push in China to track how people go about their day, one that could feed into the Chinese government’s ambitious — and, some people would say, Orwellian — effort to use technology to keep a closer watch on its citizens.

The episode was a rare, public rebuttal of a prevailing trend in China. The country’s largest internet companies, and the government itself, have gathered ever more data on internet users. While Chinese culture does not emphasize personal privacy and Chinese internet users have grown accustomed to surveillance and censorship, the anger represents a nascent, but growing, demand for increased privacy and data protections online." - Paul Mozur, New York Times
otf  china  asia  gfw  surveillance  privacy 
january 2018 by dmcdev
Tencent denies storing WeChat conversations
China requires technology companies to keep track of users' activity, yet Tencent, makers of the most popular messaging app in the country, WeChat, has denied that it keeps such records. " 'Recently, it has been said that we ‘read your WeChat messages every day’ . . . please do not worry, user privacy has always been one of our most important principles,' wrote Tencent, China’s most valuable listed technology company, on Tuesday. [See their statement (Chinese) here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/lmkQJc4kVk4EkYQocvQkPw]

'Conversation histories are only stored on the user’s smartphone, computer or other [user] terminals,' Tencent said, adding that “the rumour that ‘we look at your WeChat messages every day’ is pure falsehood'.

The statement was in response to comments by Geely Automobile chairman Li Shufu at a business forum on Monday, that there was no such thing as data privacy in China, and that Tencent chairman Pony Ma was 'definitely looking at our WeChat messages every day'.

As the Chinese government increases its control over internet users, the country’s technology companies face a clash between the privacy expected by customers and the demands of China’s surveillance state." -
Yuan Yang and Xinning Liu, Financial Times
otf  china  asia  tencent  wechat  privacy  surveillance 
january 2018 by dmcdev
As Moscow goes high-tech, so does its surveillance system
China's Xinjiang province isn't the only place bringing its surveillance system to new technological heights. In Russia, similar technological tools are being deployed to better keep tabs on citizens, both online and off. "Moscow is plowing billions of dollars into reinventing itself as a modern, tech-friendly European city, and its system of remote surveillance is also ballooning. Over the past six years, the city has contracted with telecommunications operators to install more than 130,000 cameras, many of them boasting high resolution, zoom and swivel functions, and an uplink to a centralized database accessed by 16,000 municipal, regional and federal officials, including 6,000 law enforcement officers.

I had come to see how Moscow’s pursuit of all things high-tech was playing into surveillance systems, and I wasn’t disappointed. Officials say the streamlined, centralized closed-circuit TV system serves a dual purpose and that it was originally conceived to improve municipal services rather than serve law enforcement. They also say that access to the camera feeds is carefully managed.

As Gorbatko put it: 'A person has rights according to the constitution, and we must do everything to secure those rights. It’s not to look after your wife — there are far more important tasks.'" - Andrew Roth, Washington Post
otf  russia  surveillance  privacy 
december 2017 by dmcdev
An in-depth look at the "digital police state" China employs to keep ethnic minority Uyghurs in check
In China's western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), security forces have followed a "strike hard" campaign that ostensibly exists to crack down on terror threats. For the region's ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims, this means regular invasions of privacy and constant surveillance meant intimidate, threaten, and instill fear in residents. In the southern XUAR town of Hotan, for example, "police checkpoints on every other block stop cars to check identification and smartphones for religious content," while a system of "collective monitoring" recruits families to spy on one another, and residents of the regional capital Urumqi are "graded on a 100-point scale," with an automatic 10 point deduction for being Uyghur, praying daily, or having a religious affiliation. Based off these scores, residents are deemed "trusted," "ordinary," or "not trusted." Contact with anyone outside China is also a red flag and discouraged: "Cutting-edge digital surveillance systems track where Uighurs go, what they read, who they talk to and what they say. And under an opaque system that treats practically all Uighurs as potential terror suspects, Uighurs who contact family abroad risk questioning or detention...Officials say the security is needed now more than ever because Uighur militants have been fighting alongside Islamic extremists in Syria. But Uighur activists and international human rights groups argue that repressive measures are playing into the hands of the likes of al-Qaida, which has put out Uighur-language recruiting videos condemning Chinese oppression. 'So much hate and desire for revenge are building up,' said Rukiye Turdush, a Uighur activist in Canada. 'How does terrorism spread? When people have nowhere to run.'" - Gerry Shih, AP
otf  uyghur  china  asia  xinjiang  gfw  surveillance  privacy  awareness 
december 2017 by dmcdev
In China, a Three-Digit Score Could Dictate Your Place in Society
China's social ranking system is about as close as the world has come to a real life Orwellian dystopia, wherein citizens are ranked and filed according to a broad range of factors that essentially assess one's obedience to the state and its ideology. Even making an 'inappropriate' comment online will set you back, while staying within the bounds of acceptable behavior is rewarded. "For the Chinese Communist Party, social credit is an attempt at a softer, more invisible authoritarianism. The goal is to nudge people toward behaviors ranging from energy conservation to obedience to the Party. Samantha Hoffman, a consultant with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London who is researching social credit, says that the government wants to preempt instability that might threaten the Party. 'That’s why social credit ideally requires both coercive aspects and nicer aspects, like providing social services and solving real problems. It’s all under the same Orwellian umbrella.'...The State Council has signaled that under the national social credit system people will be penalized for the crime of spreading online rumors, among other offenses, and that those deemed 'seriously untrustworthy' can expect to receive substandard services. Ant Financial appears to be aiming for a society divided along moral lines as well. As Lucy Peng, the company’s chief executive, was quoted as saying...[the social credit system] 'will ensure that the bad people in society don’t have a place to go, while good people can move freely and without obstruction.'" - Mara Hvistendahl, Wired
otf  china  asia  social  privacy 
december 2017 by dmcdev
How to Encrypt All of the Things, From Chats to Calls and More
Wired explains how to encrypt your online life - including your texts, video and voice chats, data storage, and email. It's part of an extensive new Wired Guide to Digital Security, which you can check out here: https://www.wired.com/2017/12/digital-security-guide/
otf  encrypt  security  privacy  encryption  awareness 
december 2017 by dmcdev
Inside China’s Big Tech Conference, New Ways to Track Citizens
Surveillance tech was on display - and in use - at China's World Internet Conference: "If there were any doubts about China’s technological prowess, the presentations made this week at the country’s largest tech conference should put them to rest. The event, once a setting for local tech executives and leaders of impoverished states, this year attracted top American executives like Tim Cook of Apple and Sundar Pichai of Google, as well as executives of Chinese giants like Jack Ma of Alibaba and Pony Ma of Tencent.

Yet all the advancements exhibited at the event, the World Internet Conference, in the picturesque eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen, also offered reason for caution. The technology enabling a full techno-police state was on hand, giving a glimpse into how new advances in things like artificial intelligence and facial recognition can be used to track citizens — and how they have become widely accepted here." - Paul Mozur, New York Times
otf  china  asia  gfw  surveillance  privacy  awareness 
december 2017 by dmcdev
Staggering Variety of Clandestine Trackers Found in Popular Android Apps
"Researchers at Yale Privacy Lab and French nonprofit Exodus Privacy have documented the proliferation of tracking software on smartphones, finding that weather, flashlight, ride-sharing, and dating apps, among others, are infested with dozens of different types of trackers collecting vast amounts of information to better target advertising. Exodus security researchers identified 44 trackers in more than 300 apps for Google’s Android smartphone operating system. The apps, collectively, have been downloaded billions of times. Yale Privacy Lab, within the university’s law school, is working to replicate the Exodus findings and has already released reports on 25 of the trackers...The findings underscore the pervasiveness of tracking despite a permissions system on Android that supposedly puts users in control of their own data. They also highlight how a large and varied set of firms are working to enable tracking." - Yael Grauer, The Intercept
otf  android  security  awareness  privacy 
november 2017 by dmcdev
Moscow says Twitter ready to store data of users on Russian servers despite concerns over surveillance
"Twitter has agreed to store the personal data of Russian nationals on servers located within Russia in order to comply with a data security law, a state agency has claimed.

The San Francisco-based social media company sent a letter expressing its 'readiness to localise databases on the territory of Russia by the middle of 2018', the Russian state communications oversight agency told Izvestia newspaper.

The 2015 data security law requires companies to store Russians' 'personal data' in Russia, ostensibly to reduce dependence on foreign technology.

It has caused widespread concern that it puts users' personal information at risk of being accessed by Russian intelligence services." - Alec Luhn, Telegraph News
otf  twitter  russia  privacy  data  datalocalization 
november 2017 by dmcdev
Russia's federal censor says it's in consultations with Viber, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger
"Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, says it’s in talks with the instant messengers Viber, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, though the agency claims it has no immediate plans to register these services as 'information distribution organizers,' which would impose strict requirements, including the need to surrender encryption keys to Russia’s Federal Security Service.

'We’re having a heated dialogue with Telegram,' said Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov, calling his agency’s contacts with the other three messengers 'consultations.'" - Meduza
otf  russia  censorship  Roskomnadzor  privacy 
november 2017 by dmcdev
Google slides DNS privacy into 'Droid developer stream
"Android users might get better protection for their browsing records, if a Google experiment takes off. XDA-developers.com spotted the entry in the Android Open Source Project, which adds DNS over TLS, along with an option to turn it off. The idea of sending DNS queries over TLS is simple: it's in line with the IETF's (and the Internet Architecture Board's) belief that standards need to protect users from snooping by default. DNS-over-TLS is described in RFC 7858. It proposed using TCP port 853, an implementation would establish a TLS tunnel, and send the DNS query over that encrypted tunnel (with fallback mechanisms if client or server can't support it). That would protect DNS queries from snooping by prying spies." - Richard Chirgwin, The Register
otf  android  google  dns  privacy 
november 2017 by dmcdev
China says social media companies must 'punish' employees
"China has ordered online platforms to punish staff who spread 'illegal' content domestically, in the latest move by authorities to tighten policing of the web.

Service providers must 'establish a sound information security management system', the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a Monday (Oct 30) statement.

'While we benefit from new applications or technologies... they are also improperly used by some people to post illegal information or even to commit crimes,' it said.

It was unclear what companies would have to do to comply with the new standards." - AFP
otf  china  social  surveillance  privacy  asia  gfw 
november 2017 by dmcdev
The Woman Taking On Russia's Trolling Machine
"Anna Zhavnerovich knew she was taking a risk when she publicized the details of her assault online. But in doing so, she joined a growing movement of survivors fighting back against Russia’s Kremlin-influenced trolling machine." - Yulia James and Sophia Jones, Backchannel
otf  russia  trolls  bots  privacy  speech 
october 2017 by dmcdev
What Zimbabwe’s Cybersecurity Ministry Says About Human Rights in the Country
"Earlier this month, the government in Zimbabwe, which is already one of the most repressive in the world, signaled its intent to further crackdown on human rights in the lead up to next year’s anticipated elections. This latest move came in the form of a newly created Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation. According to a government spokesperson, its mission will focus on eliminating 'abuse and unlawful conduct' in cyberspace like 'a trap used to catch rats.' The move has widely been viewed—among both domestic and international activists—as yet another attempt to curb freedom of speech online and further entrench the long-abusive regime of Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980." - Arthur Gwagwa and Jeffrey Smith for the Council on Foreign Relations
otf  zimbabwe  africa  humanrights  privacy  speech  censorship  whatsapp 
october 2017 by dmcdev
Building Trust: Toward a Legal Framework that Protects Personal Data in Lebanon
A report from the Social Media Exchange (SMEX) examines the legal framework for personal data protection in Lebanon. "The lack of a comprehensive legal framework for privacy rights and data protection in Lebanon has led to the adoption of illegal mass surveillance programs and to the violation of individual and collective privacy without repercussions," the report finds. "The Lebanese state is increasingly relying on digital technologies in its collection and storage of personal data. It has already started to issue biometric passports and smart biometric residence permits, and to convert driver’s licenses to biometric ones. The Communications Minister has proposed linking individuals’ phone numbers to their IDs through a specialized private company. It is clear that the government is trying to grow its use of new technologies to collect personal data through private companies. However, the Lebanese state is embracing these new technologies and adopting these new policies without clear guidelines to protect the data it is amassing and without privacy guarantees. This is particularly troubling in light of several cases of data leaks, some of which are known to the Lebanese public while others remain unreported." - SMEX
otf  smex  lebanon  mena  privacy  surveillance  data 
october 2017 by dmcdev
China: Voice Biometric Collection Threatens Privacy
"The Chinese government is collecting 'voice pattern' samples of individuals to establish a national voice biometric database, Human Rights Watch said today.

Authorities are collaborating with iFlytek, a Chinese company that produces 80 percent of all speech recognition technology in the country, to develop a pilot surveillance system that can automatically identify targeted voices in phone conversations. Human Rights Watch wrote to iFlytek on August 2, 2017, asking about its business relationship with the Ministry of Public Security, the description on its website of a mass automated voice recognition and monitoring system it has developed, and whether it has any human rights policies. iFlytek has not responded." - Human Rights Watch
otf  china  asia  surveillance  privacy  biometric  voice 
october 2017 by dmcdev
This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like #China
"China, which has already deployed the world’s most sophisticated internet censorship system, is building a surveillance state in Xinjiang, a four-hour flight from Beijing, that uses both the newest technology and human policing to keep tabs on every aspect of citizens’ daily lives. The region is home to a Muslim ethnic minority called the Uighurs, who China has blamed for forming separatist groups and fueling terrorism. Since this spring, thousands of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have disappeared into so-called political education centers, apparently for offenses from using Western social media apps to studying abroad in Muslim countries, according to relatives of those detained." - Megha Rajagopalan, BuzzFeed News
otf  china  surveillance  privacy  asia  gfw  uyghur 
october 2017 by dmcdev
Zimbabwe has a new “minister of WhatsApp” whose first job seems to be to stop WhatsApp
"[Last] week, Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, said a new cybersecurity ministry had been created as a trap to catch 'rats' who get up to mischief using cyberspace. It was the latest fodder for jokes doing the rounds on social media about former Zimbabwe finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa who will now head this new Cyber Security, Threat Detection, and Mitigation ministry. Locals have joked that Chinamasa’s appointment makes him the 'minister of WhatsApp and Facebook'. But the appointment also raises more serious concerns over freedom of expression, access to information and a clampdown on social media messaging." - Tawanda Karombo, Quartz
otf  zimbabwe  whatsapp  surveillance  privacy  social  africa  facebook 
october 2017 by dmcdev
Technology preview: Private contact discovery for Signal
Signal announces a new feature that will allow "Signal clients...to efficiently and scalably determine whether the contacts in their address book are Signal users without revealing the contacts in their address book to the Signal service." This blog post runs through the longstanding difficulty of solving the fundamental problem of building a "social" tool while maintaining as much privacy as possible for the user, and how, in technical detail, Signal is working on a solution (via SGX secure enclaves). At present the contact discovery service is in a "beta technology preview," with full-scale deployment expected in the coming months.
otf  signal  ows  privacy 
september 2017 by dmcdev
Children at risk after South Korean surveillance app reissued under new name, researchers say
"A South Korean child-monitoring smartphone app that was removed from the market in 2015 after it was found to be riddled with security flaws has been reissued under a new name and still puts children at risk, researchers said.

The app “Cyber Security Zone” is part of government efforts to curb what authorities consider excessive cellphone use by young people. Parents are required by law to install monitoring software on smartphones for all children 18 and under.
The app is almost identical to a previous system, “Smart Sheriff”, which left children’s private information vulnerable to hackers, according to internet watchdog Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. Both were developed under the auspices of MOIBA, the industry association for South Korean cellphone service providers." - AP
otf  southkorea  korea  security  privacy  surveillance 
september 2017 by dmcdev
South Korean parental apps found to be insecure - @citizenlab
"Researchers from Citizen Lab, Cure53, and OpenNet Korea conducted a series of security audits on Cyber Security Zone and Smart Dream, two parental monitoring apps for mobile devices. Their findings show that the children who use them are at risk of having their messages intercepted, personal data compromised, and even communication records falsified." Read the full article at link above or in graphic form from OTF-supported Net Alert here: https://netalert.me/safer-without.html
otf  southkorea  asia  privacy  research 
september 2017 by dmcdev
China’s dystopian push to revolutionize surveillance
As China's surveillance capabilities advance, the country's "dystopian project is bearing fruit," writes Human Rights Watch researcher Maya Wang. "hina’s pervasive Internet censorship and its use of countless security cameras in public spaces are well known...But we still know little of China’s full range of efforts to revolutionize surveillance. We have few details about China’s use of voice and speech recognition. There has not been any investigation into China’s nationwide “safe city” projects that vow to promote public safety using technology. We know even less about how China plans to use big data for crime prediction. What we do know is that China has no effective privacy protections and that it often treats peaceful speech as a crime."
otf  china  asia  surveillance  privacy  gfw 
august 2017 by dmcdev
#Iran: Rouhani Cabinet Pick Linked to Mass Surveillance of 2009 Protesters
"President Hassan Rouhani’s pick to head the telecommunications ministry should publicly address concerns over his direct involvement with surveillance operations during the state crackdown on the peaceful protests in 2009 and allegations that he personally interrogated activists at the time," says the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “Selecting a man who said he’s ‘proud’ of making the technical infrastructure for the surveillance industry is a sharp shift from Rouhani’s election campaign promises to protect citizens’ rights. Rouhani should nominate someone who will protect citizens’ rights, not someone linked to human rights violations through the work he did for the Intelligence Ministry," said CHRI’s executive director Hadi Ghaemi.
otf  iran  mena  surveillance  privacy 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Introducing (n+1)sec – a protocol for distributed multiparty chat encryption | eQualit.ie
OTF-supported (n+1)sec was released by eQualit.ie yesterday. "After 2 years of design, development and testing, we are releasing the (n+1)sec protocol and library for securing group conversations on various messaging systems, like Jabber/XMPP or IRC. Following a protocol and cryptographic review by the NCC Group, we are looking forward to its implementation in as many chat clients as possible." By focusing efforts on a generally applicable API rather than a plugin for a specific tool Equalit.ie streamlined a robust pipeline for bringing (n+1)sec to a huge community of users interested in secure messaging and accelerating its adoption further afield.
otf  n1sec  security  messaging  privacy 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Tajik Parliament Plans to Monitor Citizens Who Visit ‘Undesirable’ Websites
"Security services in Tajikistan will soon have the right to monitor citizens’ online activities, by keeping detailed records of SMS and mobile messages, social media comments, and anyone who visits 'undesirable' websites.

This week, the parliamentarians passed legislation that grants the country's security services the right to monitor and control citizens’ online activities, as part of a set of amendments to existing criminal law.

These have not yet been made public, but local news website Asia Plus has obtained some details from experts and parliamentarians. According to the website, two special cyber security units in the Ministry of Internal Affairs will be responsible for following Tajiks online." - Akhal-Tech Collective for Global Voices Advocacy
otf  Tajikistan  CentralAsia  eurasia  censorship  surveillance  awareness  privacy 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Netizen Report: New Research Tests Facebook’s Digital ‘On Ramp’ for Developing Countries
Research tests Facebook's Free Basics app for usability and openness; independent news sites censored in South Sudan; Kyrgyzstan bans the Internet Archive for ‘extremist materials’; Russian Senate passes censorship law outlawing VPNs, Tor; research on a Twitter bot army launched against Al Jazeera; and more in Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report
otf  netizenreport  access  awareness  privacy  security  facebook  southsudan  Kyrgyzstan  Russia  VPN  tor  twitter  media 
july 2017 by dmcdev
China Forces Muslims To Install Anti-Terrorist Surveillance App On Phones
"Chinese authorities in Ürümqi, Xinjiang's capital city, developed the Jingwang (Citizen Safety) app in April that can allow the government to scan their devices for 'terrorist propaganda,' Radio Free Asia reports. The province’s Uyghur Muslim minority received a notice from Xinjiang police last week via the messenger WeChat informing them to install in the “surveillance app” for supposed spot checks.

Police have begun stopping people on the streets to see if they have installed the app and messages through WeChat were initially sent in both Chinese and Uyghur languages." - Benjamin Fearnow, International Business Times
otf  xinjiang  china  uyghur  xuar  surveillance  privacy  awareness  gfw 
july 2017 by dmcdev
.@DigitalRightsPK Cyber Harassment Helpline's six month report highlights impact of online violence in Pakistan
Dights Rights Foundation Pakistan's latest report assesses their cyber harassment helpline through 6 months of operations. Among the findings: The Helpline received 763 complaints, mostly from women (63%), with an average of 82 calls per month. Read the full report at link above (pdf).
otf  pakistan  southasia  harassment  drf  privacy 
july 2017 by dmcdev
How @nighatdad is fighting online harassment and abuse in Pakistan
Recognising there was an urgent need [for assistance to women feeling unsafe or attacked online], Dad expanded her operations and launched Pakistan’s first cyber harassment helpline. Now, Dad and her team of 12 – including a counsellor – field up to 20 calls a day.

The cases range from women wanting advice on social media security settings to more serious problems. “Every single day we are resolving these issues. There are issues of identity theft, blackmail, there are women filmed being raped and then blackmailed to prevent it going online,” says Dad.

“Technology is ever changing, so violence in the online spaces has also increased. It has become doxing, sextortion and revenge porn. It’s massive.” - Halima Ali, The Guardian
otf  pakistan  nighatdad  difp  southasia  harassment  awareness  privacy  foe 
july 2017 by dmcdev
.@citizenlab's @RonDeibert on how nations use spyware to target activists, journalists
Citizen Lab director Ronald Deibert speaks with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! about "how the Mexican government used Israeli-made spy software to surveil a team of international investigators who had been dispatched to Mexico to investigate the high-profile disappearance of 43 students at the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in Guerrero in 2014. The targeted individuals included some of Latin America’s most prominent lawyers, who had been granted a form of diplomatic immunity to carry out their investigation."
otf  citizenlab  mexico  spyware  surveillance  activist  journalist  privacy  awareness 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Spyware Sold to Mexican Government Targeted International Officials
"A team of international investigators brought to Mexico to unravel one of the nation’s gravest human rights atrocities was targeted with sophisticated surveillance technology sold to the Mexican government to spy on criminals and terrorists.

The spying took place during what the investigators call a broad campaign of harassment and interference that prevented them from solving the haunting case of 43 students who disappeared after clashing with the police nearly three years ago." - Azam Ahmed, New York Times. Based on Citizen Lab research, which you can read here: https://citizenlab.org/2017/07/mexico-disappearances-nso/
otf  citizenlab  mexico  americas  surveillance  privacy  awareness  malware  spyware 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Women, young people experience the chilling effects of surveillance at higher rates
"Women and young people are more likely to self-censor if they think they’re being monitored...My findings suggested that once people were made aware of different online threats, they were less willing to engage in a range of activities online. For example, when made aware of online surveillance by the government, noteworthy percentages of respondents were less likely to speak or write about certain things online, less likely to share personally created content, less likely to engage with social media, and more cautious in their internet speech or search. In other words, there was a clear chilling effect." - Jonathon W. Penney for Slate
otf  surveillance  speech  foe  awareness  privacy 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Surveillance Does Not Equal Security: Analysing Kenya’s Approach To Cyber Security
"Privacy International recently published an investigation into cyber security in Kenya detailing several technical cybersecurity initiatives, and exploring the practical implications for Kenyan citizens. We found a significant disconnect between the Kenyan government’s strategy to promote ICT and the policies and practices underpinning its cyber security...Our investigation also demonstrated the prominent operational and strategic role of Kenya’s main intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), in rolling out cybersecurity projects. While the involvement of an intelligence agency in genuine national security matters is not per se cause for alarm, Privacy International detailed in a previous investigation the NIS’ routine abuse of its surveillance powers of surveillance and its facilitation of grave human rights abuses including torture and extrajudicial killing." - Privacy International
otf  kenya  surveillance  privacy  awareness  security  africa 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Kenya increasing surveillance as elections approach: @privacyint
"The Kenyan government is rushing to set up systems to increase cybersecurity, but it may also be using the opportunity to increase surveillance as the country prepares for presidential elections next month, an international group promoting the right to privacy said Wednesday.

Kenya's National Intelligence Service has strategic and operational influence on the country's cybersecurity program and this is concerning "given how the NIS operates outside of legal frameworks to surveil individuals," Privacy International said in a new report.

The projects are the Network Early Warning System to help detect cyber threats and the National Intrusion Detection and Prevention System, meant for early detection on threats to government internet infrastructure." - Tom Odula, AP. Read the new Privacy International report on Kenya here: https://privacyinternational.org/node/980
otf  kenya  africa  election  surveillance  privacy  awareness 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Beyond public key encryption – A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering via @matthew_d_green
Cryptographer and Johns Hopkins University professor (and OTF Advisory Council member) Matthew Green answers the question of "what lies beyond public key cryptography," looking at "a handful of technologies that were developed in the past 20 years, each of which allows us to go beyond the traditional notion of public keys."
otf  encryption  crypto  privacy  identity  security 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Uganda creates unit to spy on social networks
"In a country where social networks are nowadays widely used to circulate news and views, do the authorities want to monitor better in order to punish better?

The Uganda Media Centre, the media regulatory authority appointed by the president, announced on 27 June that a team of state security officers and IT experts has been set up to scan profiles on Facebook and other social networks in order to find posts critical of the government and the nation." - Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
otf  uganda  africa  social  surveillance  awareness  privacy 
july 2017 by dmcdev
.@letsencrypt has now issued more than 100,000,000 certificates
"Let’s Encrypt has reached a milestone: we’ve now issued more than 100,000,000 certificates...When Let’s Encrypt’s service first became available, less than 40% of page loads on the Web used HTTPS. It took the Web 20 years to get to that point. In the 19 months since we launched, encrypted page loads have gone up by 18%, to nearly 58%. That’s an incredible rate of change for the Web. Contributing to this trend is what we’re most proud of." - Let's Encrypt
otf  letsencrypt  encryption  https  security  privacy 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Xinjiang Authorities Take Further Steps Towards Total Digital Surveillance - @radiofreeasia
Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang are ordering residents to hand in all digital devices for 'checking' at local police stations by Aug. 1, as part of an operation targeting 'terrorist videos,' according to an announcement and official sources.

'According to the requirements of stability maintenance measures, the Baoshan community district will be carrying out a specific anti-terrorist videos operation,' a notice issued to residents of the regional capital Urumqi’s Baoshan district said...'Anyone who fails to submit the above devices and content by the stated time will be dealt with according to the relevant national law, should any problems arise,' it said, calling on local people to respond "proactively" to the order." - Qiao Long and Ghulchehra Hoja, Radio Free Asia
otf  xinjiang  asia  china  uyghur  surveillance  privacy  gfw 
june 2017 by dmcdev
The high-tech war on Tibetan communication
"What was once a low-tech information battle over radio waves has now being reshaped by the internet and smartphone access that have spread into Tibet. Yet while China operates the world's most powerful digital-security apparatus, there are only around 6 million-7 million Tibetans in Tibet, and about 150,000 exiles scattered around the world. For the small Tibetan community with limited resources, to face off with Beijing is a David and Goliath situation...While, at first, for small exile community to face off against a massive digital-security apparatus may seem insurmountable, size actually plays to Tibetans' advantage. The exile community is closely knit, and the near-constant threat of hacking since the 2008 uprising has helped create a culture of security throughout the movement." - Nithin Coca, Engadget
otf  tibet  china  censorship  access  security  privacy  awareness  asia  gfw 
june 2017 by dmcdev
China’s All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces
"Facial-recognition technology, once a spector of dystopian science fiction, is becoming a feature of daily life in China." - Josh Chin and Liza Lin, Wall Street Journal
otf  china  asia  gfw  surveillance  privacy 
june 2017 by dmcdev
"Bahamut," the unknown actor targeting human rights activists across the Middle East
"Beginning in December 2016, unconnected Middle Eastern human rights activists began to receive spearphishing messages in English and Persian that were not related to any previously-known groups. These attempts differed from other tactics seen by us elsewhere, such as those connected to Iran, with better attention paid to the operation of the campaign...After extensive work to unpack other potential attacks, we begin to describe an actor that has demonstrated higher than average care to avoid discovery, and shown an ability to learn quickly from past mistakes...Regardless of who is behind the campaign, these incidents provide a window into the broad scale of Middle Eastern cyber espionage and the constant struggles in attribution of attacks, and we attempt for this report to be understandable even for those not as well versed in digital forensics or cyber security." - Collin Anderson and Claudio Guarnieri for Bellingcat
otf  mena  surveillance  phishing  privacy  awareness  security 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Perils of Back Door Encryption Mandates | @hrw
As governments from "The Five Eyes" meet in Canada, Human Rights Watch discusses the important role digital security and encryption play for human rights defenders: “Encryption protects billions of ordinary people worldwide from criminals and authoritarian regimes. Agencies charged with protecting national security shouldn’t be trying to undermine a cornerstone of security in the digital age.” - Cynthia Wong, Human Rights Watch
otf  hrw  encryption  security  privacy  awareness  digitalsecurity  backdoor 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Citizen-journalists increasingly spied on, hounded in Iran
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), "94 Internet users, mainly users of the instant messaging service Telegram, have been arrested since the start of the year. More and more journalists are falling victim to the war between different government factions." - RSF
otf  iran  journalism  mena  bypass  bypassiran  privacy  awareness 
june 2017 by dmcdev
How the Mexican Government Puts Citizens Under Systematic Surveillance
A rundown of the surveillance industry's known presence in Mexico, and how the Mexican government has used purchased spyware to surveil journalists, activists, and human rights defenders. Article by Jacobo Nájera and Giovanna Salazar for Global Voices Advocacy
otf  mexico  america  spyware  surveillance  privacy 
june 2017 by dmcdev
An Analysis of Tor Pluggable Transports Under Adversarial Conditions (pdf) #research
"Tor Pluggable transports enable the users to overcome the adversaries which block access to the Tor network. Different pluggable transport systems use different mechanisms. Consequently, the adversaries adapt by using different approaches to identify Tor pluggable transport traffic. The deep packet inspection and the flow analysis are two of such approaches. To this end, we investigate how well pluggable transports can obfuscate user traffic under adversarial conditions. We represent the adversarial environments using the existing traffic analysis systems. Our results show that while some pluggable transports systems can hide the traffic well from adversaries, others cannot." - Khalid Shahbar and A. Nur Zincir-Heywood of Dalhousie University
otf  research  tor  pluggabletransport  security  privacy  access  circumvention 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Using Texts as Lures, Government Spyware Targets Mexican Activists and Their Families
"Mexico’s most prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists have been targeted by advanced spyware sold to the Mexican government on the condition that it be used only to investigate criminals and terrorists.

The targets include lawyers looking into the mass disappearance of 43 students, a highly respected academic who helped write anti-corruption legislation, two of Mexico’s most influential journalists and an American representing victims of sexual abuse by the police. The spying even swept up family members, including a teenage boy.

Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person’s cellular life — calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target’s smartphone into a personal bug." - Azam Ahmed and Nicole Perlroth, New York Times
otf  mexico  america  hack  awareness  security  privacy  journalism  activist  phishing 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Netizen Report: China Has a New Cybersecurity Law
Effects of China's new Cybersecurity Law already being felt across social, news media networks; online censorship on the rise in Egypt; Rouhani’s ICT Minister brags of Iran Internet censorship; Vietnamese blogger to be stripped of nationality and expelled; Venezuela telecom regulators working on proposal to ban anonymity on social media; and more in Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report.
otf  china  egypt  iran  vietnam  venezuela  access  awareness  privacy  security 
june 2017 by dmcdev
How surveillance, trolls, and fear of arrest affect Egypt's journalists
"As Egypt's crackdown on the press extends to social media and other communication platforms, many journalists say phishing attempts, trolling, software to monitor social media posts, and a draft law that would require registration for social media users are making them think twice before covering sensitive issues," the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports.
otf  egypt  access  media  surveillance  privacy  troll  trolls  Journalism  mena  bypassarab 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Rigorous statistical analysis of HTTPS reachability #research
From the Abstract: "The use of secure connections using HTTPS as the default means, or even the only means, to connect to web servers is increasing. It is being pushed from both sides: from the bottom up by client distributions and plugins, and from the top down by organisations such as Google. However, there are potential technical hurdles that might lock some clients out of the modern web. This paper seeks to measure and precisely quantify those hurdles in the wild. More than three million measurements provide statistically significant evidence of degradation. We show this through a variety of statistical techniques. Various factors are shown to influence the problem, ranging from the client’s browser, to the locale from which they connect."
otf  https  security  privacy  browsing  access  http 
june 2017 by dmcdev
The “Doubleswitch” social media attack: a threat to advocates in Venezuela and worldwide - @accessnow
"In Venezuela, Bahrain, Myanmar, and elsewhere, activists who try recover their social media accounts using standard recovery processes can remain locked out. With this new form of account hijacking — which we’re calling the 'Doubleswitch' — victims don’t just lose control of their social media accounts. They also have a harder time recovering these accounts, and in some cases, they never get them back." - Access Now
otf  social  venezuela  myanmar  bahrian  security  privacy  activist  access  hack 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Dilemma for Uber and Rival: Egypt’s Demand for Data on Riders
"As Uber sought this year to expand in Egypt, one of the most competitive ride-sharing markets, its executives faced a troubling request from Egyptian ministers: Could they provide access to heaven?

'Heaven' is Uber’s term for an internal software that provides live data about customers, drivers and journeys — in effect, it tracks any Uber ride across a giant digital map.

That software would be a powerful tool in the hands of Egypt’s security services, which, under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, have ramped up spying on citizens as part of an effort to stifle dissent and entrench Mr. Sisi in power." - Declan Walsh, New York Times
otf  egypt  mena  uber  data  privacy  security 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Why Internet Access Is a Human Right
Steven Feldstein, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, writes in Foreign Affairs on open access to the internet as a human right and the power afforded to authoritarian governments by private sector surveillance industry actors, highlighting a recent $5.6 million deal between the Congolese government and the Mer Group, an Israeli security firm.
otf  surveillance  humanright  access  congo  privacy 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Study presented at @IEEESSP asks, "Why don't people use secure internet tools?"
"The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with users from across a variety of ages, skill levels and backgrounds to see what barriers existed to the adoption of privacy-oriented, cryptographically secured tools. Their findings have implications for the two major approaches to increasing secure tools adoption: user-interface improvements and training materials." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
otf  research  usability  ux  privacy  security  adoption 
june 2017 by dmcdev
.@PET_Symposium 2017 accepted papers now online
There are also stipends available to help get participants to Minneapolis, where PETS is being hosted this year from July 18-21. Info on stipends here: https://petsymposium.org/2017/stipends.php
otf  pets  privacy  event  academia  research 
may 2017 by dmcdev
The Thinning Line Between Commercial and Government Surveillance
"Privacy doesn’t merely benefit individuals; it fundamentally shapes how society functions. It is crucial for marginalized communities and for social movements, such as the fight for marriage equality and other once-stigmatized views. Privacy enables these groups to network, organize, and develop their ideas and platforms before challenging the status quo. But when people know they’re being tracked and surveilled, they change their behavior. This chilling effect hurts our intellectual freedoms and our capacity for social progress." - ARVIND NARAYANAN AND DILLON REISMAN, The Atlantic
otf  surveillance  privacy 
may 2017 by dmcdev
2017 Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship now accepting applications
"The Open Web Fellowship program empowers the next generation of open Internet leaders and advocates by embedding them at leading human rights and civil society organizations from around the world, where they can positively impact the health of the Internet and bring critical strategic expertise to the organization. Open Web Fellows are an amazing and diverse group. They are cryptographers, community organizers, educators and makers from around the world." The deadline Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 11:59PM EST. More information and how to apply at the link above.
otf  ford  mozilla  funder  funders  fellow  fellowship  access  awareness  privacy  security 
may 2017 by dmcdev
Robust Smartphone App Identification Via Encrypted Network Traffic Analysis #research
"The apps installed on a smartphone can reveal much information about a user, such as their medical conditions, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Additionally, the presence or absence of particular apps on a smartphone can inform an adversary who is intent on attacking the device. In this paper, we show that a passive eavesdropper can feasibly identify smartphone apps by fingerprinting the network traffic that they send. Although SSL/TLS hides the payload of packets, sidechannel data such as packet size and direction is still leaked from encrypted connections." - Vincent F. Taylor, Riccardo Spolaor, Mauro Conti and Ivan Martinovic
otf  research  encryption  app  analysis  network  networkanalysis  privacy  awareness 
april 2017 by dmcdev
Netizen Report: Censorship Spikes With Venezuela’s ‘Self-Inflicted Coup’
Citizen media have become increasingly important for Venezuelans amid protests growing larger each day; Women’s rights campaigners face online threats in Kuwait; Southeast Asian lawmakers use ‘fake news’ fears to justify censorship; Iran’s Internet between Rouhani and a hard place; Apple TV bows to Chinese censorship demands; and more in Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report
otf  censorship  venezuela  kuwait  asia  iran  china  access  awareness  privacy  security 
april 2017 by dmcdev
Nation-State Hackers Go Open Source
"Nation-state hacking teams increasingly are employing open-source software tools in their cyber espionage and other attack campaigns.

For some of these threat groups, it's a cost-saving move and a more efficient early-stage attack method. Using the same hacking tools used by security researchers and penetration testers to root out security weaknesses and exploit holes in enterprise networks saves on development costs. For others, it's purely for camouflaging purposes, providing cover as a legitimate penetration test, for instance." - Kelly Jackson Higgins, DARKReading
otf  hack  threat  awareness  privacy  security  opensource 
april 2017 by dmcdev
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