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Identifying vulnerabilities and protecting you from phishing
"Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) works to counter targeted and government-backed hacking against Google and the people who use our products. Following our November update, today [Thursday 3/26/20] we’re sharing the latest insights to fight phishing, and for security teams, providing more details about our work identifying attacks against zero-day vulnerabilities...Upon reviewing phishing attempts since the beginning of this year, we’ve seen a rising number of attackers, including those from Iran and North Korea, impersonating news outlets or journalists. For example, attackers impersonate a journalist to seed false stories with other reporters to spread disinformation. In other cases, attackers will send several benign emails to build a rapport with a journalist or foreign policy expert before sending a malicious attachment in a follow up email. Government-backed attackers regularly target foreign policy experts for their research, access to the organizations they work with, and connection to fellow researchers or policymakers for subsequent attacks." - Toni Gidwani, Security Engineering Manager, Threat Analysis Group, Google

+ "A currently unpatched security vulnerability affecting iOS 13.3.1 or later prevents virtual private networks (VPNs) from encrypting all traffic and can lead to some Internet connections bypassing VPN encryption to expose users' data or leak their IP addresses.

While connections made after connecting to a VPN on your iOS device are not affected by this bug, all previously established connections will remain outside the VPN's secure tunnel as ProtonVPN disclosed...'Those at highest risk because of this security flaw are people in countries where surveillance and civil rights abuses are common,' ProtonVPN says." via Bleeping Computer: Unpatched iOS Bug Blocks VPNs From Encrypting All Traffic
otf  digisec  security  phishing  awareness  google  vuln  vulnerability 
2 days ago by dmcdev
Middle East governments clamp down on coronavirus coverage
RSF tracks coronavirus-related censorship and press restrictions in countries including Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel: "Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned to see Middle Eastern governments taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to step up state censorship and to reaffirm their monopoly of the dissemination of news and information. Ever since the start of the pandemic, many journalists in the Middle East have expressed doubts about the official figures for coronavirus cases in their countries and have criticized the lack of governmental transparency." - RSF

+ CPJ: Egypt expels Guardian reporter Ruth Michaelson over COVID-19 coverage

+ CPJ: Thailand declares state of emergency, imposes press restrictions

+ CPJ: South Africa enacts regulations criminalizing ‘disinformation’ on coronavirus outbreak
otf  coronavirus  censorship  press  media  mena  egypt  syria  saudi  saudiarabia  jordan  israel  thailand 
2 days ago by dmcdev
China’s Coronavirus Information Warfare
"In China, the pandemic, and its disastrous handling in the initial phase that is crucial to disease control, threatens social and political stability and its effects could be long-lasting. For the Chinese, the 'social contract' between an authoritarian but effective and protective regime and a population assured of a decent life has been broken. This crisis has also added to the negative elements already heightened by Xi Jinping’s offensive strategy, from an economic slowdown to a trade war with the United States and the challenges posed by Hong Kong and Taiwan. By repressing vital information, costing the life of Dr. Li Wenliang among thousands of others, the authorities demonstrated yet again that the good of the Communist Party, and its image, comes before the well-being of the people it is supposed to serve." – Valérie Niquet, The Diplomat

+ ProPublica: How China Built a Twitter Propaganda Machine Then Let It Loose on Coronavirus
otf  coronavirus  china  asia  misinfo  disinfo  social  censorship  speech  foe 
2 days ago by dmcdev
Internet shutdowns 'not justified' in coronavirus outbreak
"Internet shutdowns cannot be justified at a time when access to information is critical to containing the deadly coronavirus pandemic, human rights groups have warned. The outbreak has infected more than 245,000 people worldwide and the death toll now exceeds 10,000, according to a Reuters tally. 'Internet access is critical at a time of crisis,' David Kaye, United Nations special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said in a statement. 'Especially at a time of emergency, broad restrictions on access to the internet cannot be justified on public order or national security grounds.'" - Rina Chandran and Emeline Wuilbercq, Reuters

+ RSF: India: Kashmir’s blocked Internet could be deadly during coronavirus pandemic

+ The International Press Institute is tracking press freedom violations worldwide related to Covid-19:

+ Fortify Rights: Myanmar: Lift Internet Restrictions to Protect Public Health
otf  shutdown  access  blackout  coronavirus  kashmir  press  media 
2 days ago by dmcdev
Putin’s Internet Censor to Lead Russia’s Largest Media Holding
"Vladimir Putin’s long-time internet censor, Alexander Zharov, is taking over the helm at Russia’s largest media holding company. Zharov, who headed the country’s communications watchdog since 2012, was appointed chief executive officer of Gazprom-Media Holding on Tuesday, according to a company statement. In his eight years at the regulator, Zharov helped the Kremlin tighten control over the internet. He implemented a system for blocking content deemed illegal by the authorities and imposed fines on international social networks including Facebook and Twitter for resisting requirements to move data storage to Russia. He also tried unsuccessfully to block access to Telegram, the messenger service popular for its encryption and privacy protections. Zharov’s 'deep understanding of the processes taking place in the industry' should help Gazprom-Media strengthen its market positions, Alexey Miller, the CEO of state-controlled gas giant Gazprom PJSC and chairman of Gazprom-Media, said in the statement." - Ilya Khrennikov, Bloomberg

+ "Russian journalists covering the coronavirus are being targeted by Roskomnadzor, the media control agency that RSF has included in its list of Digital Predators of Press Freedom. The regional online newspaper Magadan Govorit was forced to delete a story at the start of the week about the death of a patient suspected of having the virus who finally tested negative. The newspaper said its information was reliable and verified, and did not give the cause of death. Roskomnadzor nonetheless insisted on its deletion." via RSF: Russia suppresses coronavirus information at home, manipulates it abroad
otf  russia  censorship  Roskomnadzor  kremlin  putin  gazprom  media  press 
2 days ago by dmcdev
Mitigate risks of Covid-19 for Jammu and Kashmir by immediately restoring full access to internet services
"In wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir must restore full access to internet services in the region of Jammu and Kashmir and ensure that people have full access to health and safety related information, said Amnesty International India [last week]...'There is a growing anxiety around the pandemic and unwarranted restrictions on content and dissemination of information only stands to add to the panic,' said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India. 'Complete shutdowns or restricting of internet speed or access makes it difficult for people to navigate their way through a difficult time further undermining their trust in the authorities. The Government of India needs to adopt a rights-respecting approach to protect public health and restore access to 4G speed internet.'" - Amnesty International
otf  kashmir  india  coronavirus  censorship  access  shutdown  blackout  asia  southasia 
5 days ago by dmcdev
Russia postpones sovereign internet test over coronavirus
ICYMI: "Russia due to coronavirus has postponed a test designed to improve the ability of its domestic internet infrastructure to cope with being cut off from the global network, the Communications Ministry said on Friday, TASS reported. The test, planned for March 20, had been aimed at developing ways to block certain types of encrypted web traffic, the TASS news agency said. 'Planned exercises were postponed due to the strengthening of measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection,' the ministry was quoted as saying. A revised schedule for the drills would be approved soon, it said." - Reuters

+ Reuters: Russia to use mobile phones to track people at risk of coronavirus
otf  russia  coronavirus  shutdown  internetsovereignty  surveillance 
5 days ago by dmcdev
Encryption app to avoid coronavirus censorship removed by Apple in China
"Apple [late last week] removed Boom the Encryption Keyboard, an app that allowed Chinese internet users to bypass censorship, from the China app store, according to its developer. Wang Huiyu, a New York-based Chinese citizen in his 20s, told Quartz that he developed Boom together with one of his university classmates during the outbreak of the coronavirus. Part of the motivation for Wang to develop the app, which went live on Feb. 15, was to offer people a chance to counter rigid online surveillance, and to provide them with an entertaining private messaging app. According to an email sent by Apple to Wang, the app was removed because it contained 'content that is illegal in China.' The app is still available in other regions, including Hong Kong, he said." - Jane Li, Quartz
otf  coronavirus  censorship  boom  asia  china  encryption  apple  appstore 
5 days ago by dmcdev
Huawei's surveillance tech in Africa worries activists
"In Europe and the US, tense debates have broken out over the national security ramifications of allowing Huawei to be involved in the construction of new 5G networks...Across Africa, however, Huawei faces controversy of a different nature. The Chinese telecoms equipment giant, which reportedly built up to 70% of the continent’s 4G infrastructure, stands accused of selling technologies to potentially repressive governments as part of its 'Safe City' initiative and in so doing helping to undermine human rights in these countries...In its latest ‘Safe City’ brochure, the company promotes its 'automated, intelligent policing information systems' and boasts of its 'omnipresent sensing' and 'intelligent surveillance' capabilities. There are currently 12 ‘Safe City’ programs in sub-Saharan Africa, including in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank based in Washington DC." - Samuel Woodhams, Quartz
otf  huawei  africa  surveillance  safecities  kenya  uganda  SouthAfrica  china  export 
5 days ago by dmcdev
How Singapore waged war on coronavirus
"But while government measures to contain the first wave of infections were effective, they also raised questions about the invasiveness of the state. Surveillance cameras, police officers and contact-tracing teams have helped the government find 7,957 close contacts of confirmed cases, who have all been quarantined. The government on Friday launched TraceTogether, an app that uses bluetooth to record distance between users and the duration of their encounters. People consent to give the information, which is encrypted and deleted after 21 days, to the health ministry. The department can contact users in case of “probable contact” with an infected individual…The government has also used a tough new online falsehoods law to correct misinformation in posts about the coronavirus, which critics have argued gave authorities too much latitude to censor." - Stefania Palma, FInancial Times

+ "Health officials and scientists in Britain hope to soon begin testing the first smartphone app that would alert people who had come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. The project is an urgent effort by the British authorities to translate a surveillance tool deployed to fight China’s outbreak into something more palatable in Western democracies. The app is being developed for use in Britain, but could be adapted for other countries, particularly those with similarly centralized health systems, officials said." via New York Times: Translating a Surveillance Tool into a Virus Tracker for Democracies

+ "As countries around the world race to contain the pandemic, many are deploying digital surveillance tools as a means to exert social control, even turning security agency technologies on their own civilians. Health and law enforcement authorities are understandably eager to employ every tool at their disposal to try to hinder the virus — even as the surveillance efforts threaten to alter the precarious balance between public safety and personal privacy on a global scale.

Yet ratcheting up surveillance to combat the pandemic now could permanently open the doors to more invasive forms of snooping later. It is a lesson Americans learned after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, civil liberties experts say." via Natasha Singer and Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times: As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets

+ Lawfare: Government Surveillance in an Age of Pandemics

+ Axios: The pandemic's coming health surveillance state

+ Privacy International: Tracking the Global Response to COVID-19

+ Not just another remote/WFH guide: Tor shares tips on how to work remotely "retaining your rights to privacy and freedom of expression": Remote Work and Personal Safety
otf  coronavirus  singapore  asia  SoutheastAsia  seasia  surveillance  censorship 
5 days ago by dmcdev
Private Internet Access announces WireGuard VPN Beta
"Private Internet Access is happy to announce that the beta client and apps now feature WireGuard® VPN support. WireGuard on our desktop clients and mobile apps are currently being rolled out to PIA beta testers. Note that this is still a beta version of PIA WireGuard support, there are still some features such as per-app connections on our Android VPN app that don’t yet work with WireGuard – but rest assured that we’re working on it! Also note that PIA will be closing signups for its mobile beta program during this WireGuard beta phase, meaning that the WireGuard beta is only available to existing beta testers." - Private Internet Access
otf  wireguard  vpn  pia  privacy  access  security 
10 days ago by dmcdev
It's Not Just the Content, It's the Business Model: Democracy’s Online Speech Challenge
New Ranking Digital Rights report "articulates the connection between surveillance-based business models and the health of democracy. Drawing from Ranking Digital Rights’s extensive research on corporate policies and digital rights, we examine two overarching types of algorithms, give examples of how these technologies are used both to propagate and prohibit different forms of online speech (including targeted ads), and show how they can cause or catalyze social harm, particularly in the context of the 2020 U.S. election. We also highlight what we don’t know about these systems, and call on companies to be much more transparent about how they work...

"Reliance on revenue from targeted advertising incentivizes companies to design platforms that are addictive, that manufacture virality, and that maximize the information that the company can collect about its users. Policymakers and the American public are starting to understand this, but have not taken this insight to its logical conclusion: the business model needs to be regulated...Policymakers and activists alike must shift their focus to the power that troubling content can attain when it is plugged into the algorithmic and ad-targeting systems of companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. This is where regulatory efforts could truly shift our trajectory...we can drastically reduce the power of [content like disinformation and violent extremism]—its capacity to throw an election or bring about other kinds of real-life harm—if we focus on regulating companies’ underlying data-driven (and money-making) technological systems and on good corporate governance."
otf  speech  foe  policy  social 
10 days ago by dmcdev
Pandemics & Propaganda: How Chinese State Media Shapes Conversations on The Coronavirus
New research from Stanford's Cyber Policy Center looks at how Chinese state-back media has covered the coronavirus across its English-language outlets as compared with mainstream American press, looking specifically at coverage of topics like the death of Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese government's handling of the crisis, and differing emphasis when it comes to topics like "recovery" vs. "sick" or "affected" people:

"The perception of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a significant challenge for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the past two months. The CCP has been attempting to control the narrative and deflect blame since the start of the outbreak, both domestically and abroad. It has done this by drawing on its substantial state- and CCP-owned media apparatus...To look at how coronavirus narratives targeting English-speaking audiences have played out on Chinese state media, and how they evolved as the outbreak has moved through various phases, we analyzed a data set of Facebook posts containing the keyword 'coronavirus' from two distinct sets of media properties: 1) a collection of English-language Chinese (state) media outlets, and 2) a collection of U.S. media outlets*. This 'coronavirus' dataset contained 6,870 posts from Chinese media between December 31, 2019 and March 16, 2020, and 13,522 posts from U.S. media outlets over the same period. While Chinese media has increased its coronavirus coverage in January and stayed at a consistent level since then, U.S. media Facebook posts on the coronavirus stayed at low levels until late February, then soared...

"It is both true that the Chinese government made strikingly bad decisions in its early response to the virus - and also that the United States will suffer from its own lack of preparation. Meanwhile, amid the bungled U.S. COVID-19 response - including a lack of coordination even with close allies - the Chinese government is supporting hard-hit countries by sending supplies and medical experts, garnering praise from around the world. As Western democracies struggle to land on effective COVID-19 responses, experts expect a more aggressive narrative to come from Beijing." - Vanessa Molter, Stanford Internet Observatory

+ Wall Street Journal: China’s Glowing Coronavirus-Response Coverage Triggers Anger at State Media

+ "As a major tech powerhouse, it’s no surprise that Taiwan made use of tech tools to fight the outbreak. This includes using big data for analytics and developing platforms to inform people where masks are currently available and where infected people have been. Taiwan’s health insurance and immigration agencies integrated local and foreign residents’ 14-day travel history with their health insurance card data, allowing hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies to access that information when dealing with patients. People undergoing self-quarantine were called frequently by officials and had their phones tracked to make sure they didn’t leave their residence. It also helps that Taiwan has one of the world’s best health systems—thanks to massive reforms in the 1990s—which provides affordable, comprehensive, and convenient services to its entire population, including the elderly and low-income groups. User health data is stored on a centralized system accessible to hospitals and clinics, so doctors can quickly see their patients’ history." via Foreign Policy: Fear of China Made Taiwan a Coronavirus Success Story

+ Slate: Lessons From China on the Coronavirus and the Dangers of App Consolidation
otf  misinfo  social  media  press  asia  gfw  china  coronavirus  taiwan 
10 days ago by dmcdev
Phones Could Track the Spread of Covid-19. Is It a Good Idea? 
"As the deadly Covid-19 respiratory virus stalks the US, some techies suggest using smartphones to track and report transmissions. The idea raises many questions, including how well such a system would actually work, whether it might sow unnecessary alarm or confusion, and whether such tools might enable unwanted corporate or government surveillance...Inspired by the way China and South Korea apparently used smartphones to slow the spread of Covid-19, some US technologists have begun working on tracking apps...

"Government use of coronavirus-related apps in China and South Korea have not been entirely positive. In South Korea, the authorities have sent out texts detailing the movements of specific people infected with Covid-19, stirring up public shaming and rumor-mongering. The government is also using a smartphone app to ensure people stay home when they have been ordered to quarantine themselves. The ubiquitous Chinese apps WeChat and AliPay have been used to assign people 'color codes' to determine whether they should quarantine themselves or may move around freely. But some citizens say the codes appear to be applied arbitrarily or based on which province they are in. There is also evidence the apps feed data back to the authorities." - Will Knight, WIRED

+ WIRED: Researchers Will Deploy AI to Better Understand Coronavirus

+ "For malicious people, preying on collective fear and misinformation is nothing new. Mentioning national headlines can lend a veneer of credibility to scams. We've seen this tactic time and again, so it's no surprise that COVID-19 themed social media and email campaigns have been popping up online. This blogpost provides an overview to help you fight against phishing attacks and malware, examples of phishing messages we’ve seen in the wild related to coronavirus and COVID-19, and specific scenarios to look out for (such as if you work in a hospital, are examining maps of the spread of the virus, or are using your phone to stay informed)." via EFF: Phishing in the Time of COVID-19: How to Recognize Malicious Coronavirus Phishing Scams
otf  coronavirus  surveillance  china  SouthKorea  ai  phishing 
10 days ago by dmcdev
8 Million People Can’t Get News About The Coronavirus Because Their Government Is Slowing Down The Internet
"More than 8 million people who live in Kashmir, the disputed region between India and Pakistan, are unable to depend on the internet to get reliable information about the coronavirus pandemic, work from home, or attend classes online...A new government order, which was released Tuesday, has extended the region’s existing restrictions on internet speed until March 26 to 'prevent misuse of social media applications' and following 'recent terror activities' in the region. But locals said that the restrictions on internet speed are unacceptable at a time when access to timely and reliable information about the coronavirus is crucial.

'I can’t open even basic websites that provide information and advice about the pandemic,' Nayeem Rather, a freelance writer based in Srinagar, the largest city in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, told BuzzFeed News. 'Most people in Kashmir don’t really have any information about the coronavirus or what is going on in the world right now. It’s a crisis.'" - Pravav Dixit, BuzzFeed News
otf  kashmir  india  shutdown  access  blackout  asia  southasia  coronavirus 
10 days ago by dmcdev
Russia says it has hardly any coronavirus cases. Doctors say otherwise.
"Already, Russian state television and media outlets with ties to the Kremlin have promoted the hoax that the coronavirus is a U.S.-created bioweapon. It is not alone in making such accusations, either. The conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is a bioweapon manufactured by hostile foreign powers has been advanced by politicians and commentators in nations including China, India, Iran and the U.S.  

While Kremlin-propagated disinformation campaigns are usually meant to influence Western audiences, Russian coronavirus disinformation appears to be designed for domestic consumption. But, according to Natalia Krapiva, legal counsel with the digital rights and privacy advocacy organization Access Now, this strategy may not be wholly successful. 

'We are closely following public discourse, and I noticed that serious doubts are surfacing about how realistic the numbers are,' Krapiva told Coda Story. 'These doubts have grown over the past few days, turning into open distrust, because people are seeing what is happening in Europe and connecting it to the fact that in Russia doctors are suddenly reporting a big increase in pneumonia cases.'" - Ilan Greenberg, Katerina Fomina, Coda Story

+ Meduza: Russia’s Internet knockout punch Hackers leak internal documents showing the FSB’s quest for a cyber-weapon that can take whole nations offline
otf  russia  coronavirus  disinfo  misinfo  cyber  propaganda 
10 days ago by dmcdev
Coronavirus Outrage Spurs China’s Internet Police to Action
"As China tries to reshape the narrative of its fumbled response to the coronavirus outbreak, it is turning to a new breed of police that carry out real-world reprisals for digital misdeeds. The internet police, as they are known here, have gained power as the Communist Party has worked to seize greater control over the thoughts, words, and even memories of China’s 800 million web users. Now, they are emerging as a bulwark against the groundswell of anger over governance breakdowns that exacerbated the epidemic...

"Little is known about the group, formally part of the Cybersecurity Defense Bureau, which has long policed hacking and online fraud. But occasional government releases offer clues. In 2016, the 50-million person region of Guangxi said it had almost 1,200 internet police officers. The goal was to have one internet police officer for every 10,000 people in the region, a sign of the force’s ambitions. In the early years of Chinese social media, punishments doled out to critics were rarely severe. As millions took to clones of Twitter and Facebook, which are banned in China, censorship usually meant disappearing posts and inaccessible foreign websites. Now the police actively pursue the authors of forbidden material, and irritation has been replaced by fear." - Paul Mozur, New York Times

+ New York Times: China Spins Tale That the U.S. Army Started the Coronavirus Epidemic

+ "Authorities worldwide are using the coronavirus as a pretext to crack down on human rights for political purposes. Though some limitations are undoubtedly necessary to address a pandemic, there is a real risk that this crisis could trigger a lasting global backslide in fundamental freedoms — and it’s already started." via Washington Post (opinion): How the coronavirus could trigger a backslide on freedom around the world

+ New York Times: As China Cracks Down on Coronavirus Coverage, Journalists Fight Back

+ Wall Street Journal: China’s Internet Users Foil Censors to Keep a Wuhan Doctor’s Interview Online

+ Lawfare: China Responds to the Coronavirus With an Iron Grip on Information Flow

+ "Emails and websites are promising vital information about keeping safe from the coronavirus pandemic that’s sweeping the globe and threatening millions. In fact, a flood of them are scams that push malware, ransomware, and disinformation; attempt to steal passwords and personal information; and conduct espionage operations by hackers working for nation-states." via Ars Technica: The Internet is drowning in COVID-19-related malware and phishing scams
otf  coronavirus  china  asia  censorship  gfw  malware  phishing 
12 days ago by dmcdev
U.S. Diplomacy Is a Necessary Part of Countering China’s Digital Authoritarianism
"Digital diplomacy is important for trade; it’s important for national security; and it’s important for collaborating with other liberal democracies to establish and reinforce clear, democratic regulations and behavior around artificial intelligence and emerging surveillance issues. On this last point of norm-setting, investing in digital diplomacy is particularly critical for countering the rise and spread of digital authoritarianism. Notably, Washington’s shrinking investment in digital diplomacy stands in stark contrast to that of Beijing...

"China’s investment in digital diplomacy matters because of how it’s coupled with, in [the case of a deal between Chinese AI firm CloudWalk and the Zimbabwean government] and many others, exports of facial recognition software, internet traffic interception technologies, and other surveillance tools to despots. It matters because the Chinese government has even conducted training exercises for foreign governments on how to 'manage' new information media—undoubtedly a coded word for spreading censorship. It matters because digital diplomatic efforts have enabled Chinese firms to expand their market reach globally, enabling practices such as information censorship at Beijing’s behest." - Justin Sherman for Lawfare
otf  china  asia  gfw  zimbabwe  censorship  surveillance  export 
12 days ago by dmcdev
Asia’s internet shutdowns are a violation of human rights
"Last month, Myanmar announced it was — again — shutting down mobile data services in one of the country’s most conflict-affected regions. Across the border in Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have lived without internet access in sprawling and overcrowded camps for months. In India’s Kashmir, the world record for a state internet shutdown in a democracy was broken in December. Taken together, all these point to a stark trend across the Asia-Pacific region, where governments are increasingly relying on internet shutdowns to control free speech...Instead of looking for new ways to control and restrict what is said online, governments across Asia should take a cue from civil society and look to champion free speech. The 'Asian century' should be built on openness and debate — not repression and control." - Binaifer Nowrojee, Asia Pacific regional director for the Open Society Foundations, for Financial Times
otf  shutdown  blackout  access  asia  myanmar  Rohingya  india  kashmir  southasia  SoutheastAsia  SEAsia 
12 days ago by dmcdev
Iran Launched an App That Claimed to Diagnose Coronavirus. Instead, It Collected Location Data on Millions of People.
"On Tuesday, March 3, the smartphones of tens of millions of Iranian citizens beeped in unison. 'Dear compatriots, before going to the hospital or health center, install and use this software to determine if you or your loved ones have been infected with the coronavirus,' said the message, which claimed to come from the Ministry of Health...Of course, the app couldn't tell citizens if they had coronavirus. But what it could do is hoover up huge amounts of data on citizens, including names, addresses, dates of birth, and even track people's location in real time. The government has already boasted that millions of citizens have shared this information with them at a time when most Iranians are completely in the dark about the threat from coronavirus. The government is being accused of covering up the real infection and death rates with experts claiming the real figures are exponentially higher. With confusion and fear gripping many parts of Iran, this app is looking to take advantage of that to boost Tehran's surveillance capabilities." - David Gilbert, VICE
otf  iran  mena  coronavirus  surveillance  privacy 
12 days ago by dmcdev
Targeted Surveillance Attacks in Uzbekistan: An Old Threat with New Techniques
ICYMI: This Amnesty International report released last week documents targeted "phishing and spyware attacks targeting Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) from Uzbekistan," documenting what Amnesty calls "a worrying evolution in the surveillance threat facing HRDs in Uzbekistan, which now appear more sophisticated than previously documented, and able to bypass some security tools HRDs use to protect themselves against surveillance." Amnesty's investigation follows on a May 2019 report published by eQualitie analyzing phishing attacks targeting Uzbek human rights actors.
otf  uzbekistan  CentralAsia  phishing  surveillance  soviet  hrd  security  digisec  DigitalSecurity 
12 days ago by dmcdev
Pakistan’s new digital law could prompt social media companies to stop offering services in country
"The biggest threat posed by the new rules is the requirement that social media companies structure their systems to allow for the delivery of any data that government investigators ask for in a decrypted and readable format. In essence, this would mean an end to strong and safe encryption technologies not just in Pakistan, but around the world. No tech company in their right mind would jeopardise their global operations for the sake of a single country’s market. This means, in practical terms, that the impact of the rules will be to push every social media company out of offering services in Pakistan. It would, in essence, cut the country off from the world. This cannot be the future that Pakistanis want." - Michael Karanicolas,
otf  pakistan  asia  southasia  social  law  policy 
16 days ago by dmcdev
Russia Seeks to Block 'Darknet' Technologies, Including Telegram's Blockchain
"A Russian government agency has requested contractor bids to find ways to block censorship-resistant internet technologies, like mesh networks. The list includes messaging app company Telegram’s yet-to-be-launched blockchain. The call for bids was published on March 3 by the General Radio Frequency Center, the agency controlling the use of radio frequencies in Russia, and first reported by the Russian-language cryptocurrency news outlet Forklog. According to the notice, the agency is looking for research on what technologies can be used to access restricted content, including content deemed extremist, beyond traditional internet protocols.

The research should point at ways to block access to such tech, the agency told would-be contractors. The list of such technologies in the document includes mesh networks, internet of things (IoT) protocols and protocols allowing anonymous browsing, including Invisible Internet Project (I2P), The Onion Router (TOR), Freenet, Zeronet, anoNet – and one blockchain, the Telegram Open Network (TON)." - Anna Baydakova, CoinDesk
otf  russia  tor  block  censorship  access  i2p  freenet  blockchain  telegram 
16 days ago by dmcdev
In Yemen, the internet is a key front in the conflict
"Perched on a remote mountain ridge in Yemen’s southwestern Ibb province, a cluster of white dishes bolted to pipes and tree branches beams wireless internet to thousands of people in the area. Parts of rural Ibb have no fixed telephone lines and limited mobile coverage. In an effort to deliver digital connectivity to his people, Nabil al-Mansouri launched a do-it-yourself wireless business, known as a community network, three years ago. Sort of like the once-ubiquitous internet cafe, community networks purchase bandwidth from Yemen’s state-owned internet service provider, YemenNet. It is then resold to members of the public. But rather than renting out a seat at an old PC in a smoke-filled room, community networks provide direct wireless internet access to customers in cities, suburbs and villages that would otherwise remain unconnected.

But last September, YemenNet surprised Mansouri and thousands of other community network operators with steep price hikes and data limits: One popular package, which used to cost $115 for 450 GB, now costs either $160 for 400 GB or $105 for 200 GB. A month later, the Iran-backed Zaidi Shiite Houthi government in Sanaa announced that it would no longer issue business permits to the community networks. Overnight, operations like Mansouri’s became illegal. By December, Houthi authorities had dispatched armed men to confiscate equipment from wireless providers and issue cease and desist letters at community network offices. 'It’s a disaster that has befallen us,' said Mansouri. 'I was shocked.' " - Casey Coombs, Coda Story
otf  yemen  mena  access  conflict  iran  Saudi  saudiarabia 
16 days ago by dmcdev
RSF opens “The Uncensored Library” – The digital home of Press Freedom within a global computer game
"In [countries with repressive information control regimes], where websites, blogs and free press in general are strictly limited, Minecraft is still accessible by everyone. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) used this backdoor to build 'The Uncensored Libra- ry': A library that is now accessible on an open server for Minecraft players around the globe. The library is filled with books, containing articles that were censored in their country of origin. These articles are now available again within Minecraft hidden from government surveillance technology inside a computer game. The books can be read by everyone on the server, but their content cannot be changed. The library is growing, with more and more books being added to overcome cen-sorship." - Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
otf  censorship  access  minecraft  game  circumvention 
16 days ago by dmcdev
Coronavirus: China's netizens get creative to share censored article on whistleblower
"Online users in China have adopted a range of creative measures - including screenshots, deliberate typos, PDF files and Morse code - to share a censored article on a whistleblowing doctor. The report features an interview with a doctor in Wuhan, the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak, who sounded an early alarm only to face disciplinary action...But the interview with Dr Ai Fen, in the March edition of China's People magazine, has been removed from the popular social media platform WeChat and netizens have complained that it cannot be shared in chat groups.

"In the censored feature, Dr Ai said she was given an 'unprecedented and severe rebuke' after trying to warn other doctors in December when test results from a patient came up with the results 'Sars coronavirus'. Dr Ai circled the words in the report on Dec 30 and shared it, urging doctors to take precautions against the virus - and earning a reprimand from her hospital's disciplinary department. The warning was also shared by eight physicians, who were later punished by Wuhan police for 'rumour-mongering'. Wuhan was placed under lockdown in late January. Various adaptations of the article have since been circulating online in an apparent pushback against online censorship." - AFP

Among the creative dissemination methods: What one might call 'the Star Wars method.'

+ CPJ: Q&A: Citizen Lab documents Chinese censorship of coronavirus keywords

+ "A potentially disturbing development: Amid the coronavirus outbreak, a Chinese facial recognition software company now claims to be able to detect faces even through masks—one of the ways protesters in Hong Kong and elsewhere had avoided being identified. It’s only one firm, but with the revelation that the camera giant Hikvision has been training at a paramilitary base in Xinjiang that bans Uighurs from participating, the future is beginning to look darker." via Foreign Policy: China’s New Normal

+ ZDNet: Spying concerns raised over Iran's official COVID-19 detection app
otf  coronavirus  china  asia  iran  app  privacy  surveillance 
16 days ago by dmcdev
We Asked Kashmiris To Tell Us What Living Through A Seven-Month Internet Shutdown Was Like. They Had Lots To Say.
"When the government of Jammu and Kashmir, the region disputed between India and Pakistan, finally allowed the valley’s 7 million residents back online for the first time since August 2019, BuzzFeed News asked them to write to us and tell us, in their own words, what it was like. We received nearly a hundred submissions from Kashmiris who were finally able to access the internet and let us know how they truly felt. Here’s what they said." - Pranav Dixit, BuzzFeed News. Here's a few quotes from Kashmiri residents:

"This is what the totalitarian face of the world’s largest democracy looks like under the surface."

"I was planning to apply for a PhD to a university abroad, but I couldn’t finish my research and missed application deadlines."

"Sometimes, I would dream. In my dreams, the internet would be back, and I’d be on cloud nine."

"I felt like I was in a virtual jail."

"For me, every day of the last seven months has been filled with rage and anxiety."
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  access  southasia  asia  blackout 
16 days ago by dmcdev
South Korea is watching quarantined citizens with a smartphone app
"With almost 6,300 cases and more than 40 reported deaths, South Korea has become home to the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak outside China. As a result, the government in Seoul has taken what it calls 'maximum' action to contain the spread of the disease—including sending thousands of people into mandatory home quarantine. Now it is launching its latest attempt to keep things from escalating further: a smartphone app that can monitor citizens on lockdown. The app, developed by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, allows those who have been ordered not to leave home to stay in contact with case workers and report on their progress. It will also use GPS to keep track of their location to make sure they are not breaking their quarantine. Named 'self-quarantine safety protection,' the sparsely designed service is being launched today for Android smartphones, while an iPhone version is expected to be released on March 20. Officials said it is intended to help manage the increasing case load and prevent cases of 'super spreaders,' who have been blamed for significant numbers of infections." - Max S. Kim, MIT Technology Review

+ Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies: How Taiwan Used Big Data, Transparency and a Central Command to Protect Its People from Coronavirus
otf  korea  SouthKorea  coronavirus  app  surveillance  privacy  asia 
20 days ago by dmcdev
‘Noodles’ and ‘Pandas’: Chinese People Are Using Secret Code to Talk About Coronavirus Online
"Chinese citizens angry at their government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak have come up with some ingenious ways to express their outrage and circumvent the extreme censorship measures imposed by Beijing. In a bid to control the narrative, Beijing authorities have censored sensitive topics, silenced WeChat accounts, tracked down those who are sharing criticism of the government, and disappeared citizen journalists. But all those efforts still haven't silenced people online, and angry citizens are now relying on coded words and phrases to express their dissatisfaction, according to research from Amnesty International, exclusively shared with VICE News. The research — by Amnesty’s Chinese editor, who's using a pseudonym for fear of retribution — shows that the most common example is “zf” which is the abbreviation for the Chinese word “government. To refer to the police, the letters “jc” are used, while “guobao” (meaning "national treasure") or panda images are used to represent the domestic security bureau. Citizens talking about the Communist Party’s Publicity Department use “Ministry of Truth” from the George Orwell novel "1984," instead." - David Gilbert, VICE

Read the Amnesty International research here: Pho noodles and pandas: How China’s social media users created a new language to beat government censorship on COVID-19

+ "State authorities, in addition to locking down entire cities, have implemented a myriad of security measures in the name of containing the coronavirus outbreak. From top officials to local community workers, those enforcing the rules repeat the same refrain: this is an 'extraordinary time' feichang shiqi, requiring extraordinary measures. As the number of new infections in China falls, having infected more than 80,000 and killed more than 3,000, residents and observers question how much of these new measures are here to stay." via The Guardian: 'The new normal': China's excessive coronavirus public monitoring could be here to stay
otf  china  censorship  coronavirus  speech  foe  asia  gfw 
20 days ago by dmcdev
Made-in-China Censorship for Sale
"For China’s tech companies, content-moderation tools are becoming a big business, and one that could spread Chinese-style censorship around the world. U.S. tech companies already use content-moderation systems to screen out pornography, hate speech and extreme violence online, but they have largely resisted using them to filter political content. Because of China’s demands that online platforms remove all objectionable content, including anything politically sensitive, Chinese companies are taking a much different road. Tech giants likeAlibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent HoldingsLtd. are developing sophisticated content-moderation systems that intentionally target political content—and are selling those systems to anyone who wants to use them." - Shan Li, Wall Street Journal
otf  china  asia  gfw  censorship 
20 days ago by dmcdev
The U.S. Fears Live Facial Recognition. In Buenos Aires, It’s a Fact of Life
"Last April, the government of Buenos Aires announced that the city’s subway cameras would be connected to a system called the Fugitive Facial Recognition System. Three weeks later, the system was operational. For almost a year, the residents of this city of 3 million have lived under the surveillance of live facial recognition, with some individuals put on a watchlist even for minor crimes like theft...

"The video surveillance system is developed by a Buenos Aires-based company called Danaide S.A., which sells its surveillance technology through a product called Ultra IP. The facial recognition component of Danaide’s product is developed by Russian company NTechLab, which confirmed its partnership with the Argentinian firm to OneZero, but did not provide more information due to a nondisclosure agreement. NTechLab’s software is also being used to conduct live facial recognition in Moscow using 3,000 CCTV cameras, according to a 2018 company presentation. The company claims an accuracy rate of 80%, though that has/has not been independently verified." - Dave Gershgorn, OneZero
otf  argentina  surveillance  russia  ntechlab  facialrecognition  Southamerica 
23 days ago by dmcdev
WireGuard Gives Linux a Faster, More Secure VPN
WIRED reports on how WireGuard, an OTF-supported project, "wins fans with its simplicity and ease of auditing":

"Many older VPN offerings are 'way too huge and complex, and it's basically impossible to overview and verify if they are secure or not,' says Jan Jonsson, CEO of VPN service provider Mullvad, which powers Firefox maker Mozilla's new VPN service. That explains some of the excitement around WireGuard, an open source VPN software and protocol that will soon be part of the Linux kernel—the heart of the open source operating system that powers everything from web servers to Android phones to cars. WireGuard, created by security researcher Jason A. Donenfeld, is smaller and simpler than most other VPN software. The first version of WireGuard contained fewer than 4,000 lines of code—compared with tens of thousands of lines in other VPN software. That doesn't make WireGuard more secure, but it makes it easier to find and fix problems." - Klint Finley, WIRED
otf  wireguard  vpn  security  access  linux 
23 days ago by dmcdev
Iran's Answer to the Coronavirus Outbreak: Cut the Internet
"Moments after Iran announced that a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader had died as a result of the coronavirus, the government blocked access to the Persian version of Wikipedia. The restrictions remained in place for 24 hours, though an oversight by the government meant that while the desktop version of the site was blocked, the mobile version remained available. Access to the Farsi version of Wikipedia was restored on Tuesday, but social media sites like Twitter and Facebook remain restricted inside the country as of Wednesday, as the government seeks to control the spread of information and keep a grip on the narrative around the increasingly deadly outbreak." - David Gilbert, VICE

+ Coda Story: US sanctions block Iranians from accessing coronavirus map

+ "In early 2020, a journalist in Iran received a form from Iran’s National E-commerce Union, a nominally independent group that is close to the government, requesting their name, the news website they work for, and their IP address. 'With all due respect,' it read, 'provide the following information to prevent any potential problem during future internet shutdowns.'" via Committee to Protect Journalists: To cement internet control, Iran helps journalists get online
otf  iran  coronavirus  censorship  wikipedia  access  press  mena  media 
23 days ago by dmcdev
China tech groups censored information about coronavirus
"Chinese social media platforms, including Tencent’s WeChat, censored keywords related to coronavirus as early as December, potentially limiting the Chinese public’s ability to protect themselves from the virus. Beijing has strictly controlled access to information throughout the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide. Research by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, one of the first reports into information control during the outbreak, say the censorship started in the early stages of the crisis. Authorities blocked a wide range of speech — including criticism of the central government — in a bid to control the narrative and manage public sentiment." - Sue-Lin Wong and Yuan Yang, Financial Times

Access the full Citizen Lab report here: Censored Contagion: How Information on the Coronavirus is Managed on Chinese Social Media
otf  china  asia  censorship  citizenlab  research  coronavirus  speech  foe  wechat 
23 days ago by dmcdev
China Just Outlawed Clickbait and Sensationalist Headlines
"Even the draconian online censorship laws haven’t stopped Chinese citizens from posting criticisms of the government's delayed response to the coronavirus crisis. So Beijing has imposed a new set of rules specifically codifying what's legal and what’s not — including sexual innuendo and celebrity gossip.

The new rules, dubbed 'Provisions on the Governance of the Online Information Content Ecosystem,' [available via the Cyberspace Administration of China website in Chinese here] are designed to promote 'positive' and uplifting content that supports the ideologies of the Communist Party. They were first introduced by the cyberspace administration in December, when some Chinese people were voicing support online for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. But the law, which went into effect Sunday, will now be used to further clamp down on citizens’ efforts to raise concerns about how the government’s delayed response to the coronavirus outbreak made the situation much worse. Almost 3,000 people have already died from coronavirus in China." - David Gilbert, VICE

+ "Facing the risk of having information and memories of the coronavirus epidemic erased from the internet by censors, Chinese citizens are turning to the internet beyond the Great Firewall to keep that content alive. One example of this crowdsourced effort to preserve coronavirus memories is a project...set up about a month ago on US-based GitHub, the software development website. The project, which was started by seven volunteers based around the world, chronicles and collects personal narratives and Chinese news reports on the disease." via Quartz: Chinese citizens are racing against censors to preserve coronavirus memories on GitHub
otf  china  asia  gfw  censorship  rules  law  policy 
24 days ago by dmcdev
India restores full internet access in Kashmir for 2 weeks
"Indian authorities on Wednesday temporarily revoked a ban on social media sites and restored full internet access in disputed Kashmir for two weeks, seven months after they stripped the restive region of its statehood and semi-autonomy and enforced a total communications blackout. Internet access over mobile devices, however, will remain restricted to slow speed. The restoration of the internet will remain in effect till March 17, a government order said. It gave no explanation of the time limit. A recent Supreme Court order had said the internet ban could not be indefinite. The order issued by the region’s home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said internet access over fixed lines will be restricted to registered customers." - Aijaz Hussain, AP

+ Cisco denied reports that it is helping the Indian government "to build software to prevent Kashmiris from accessing social media websites in the region," BuzzFeed News reports.
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  access  blackout  southasia  asia  cisco 
24 days ago by dmcdev
Coronavirus controls increase surveillance 'danger'
"he coronavirus outbreak has enabled authorities from China to Russia to increase surveillance and clamp down on free speech, with the risk that these measures will persist even after the situation eases, digital rights experts said. COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus which emerged from China late last year, has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide and made about 91,000 unwell. In response, many countries have tightened border controls and imposed travel bans. Some have stepped up surveillance using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, alarming human rights activists and data privacy experts.

'Governments are legitimising tools of oppression as tools of public health,' said Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia policy director at Access Now, a digital rights non-profit. 'The danger is that these measures stay in place and that data continues to be collected and used. We have seen this happen in the past after major events in China and after 9/11 in the United States[.]'" - Rina Chandran, Reuters
otf  coronavirus  censorship  surveillance  china  russia 
24 days ago by dmcdev
Facebook, Google and Twitter Rebel Against Pakistan’s Censorship Rules
"When Pakistan’s government unveiled some of the world’s most sweeping rules on internet censorship this month, global internet companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter were expected to comply or face severe penalties — including the potential shutdown of their services. Instead, the tech giants banded together and threatened to leave the country and its 70 million internet users in digital darkness. Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition, they wrote a scathing letter to Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan. In it, the companies warned that 'the rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.' Their public rebellion, combined with pressure and lawsuits from local civil libertarians, forced the government to retreat. The law remains on the books, but Pakistani officials pledged this week to review the regulations and undertake an 'extensive and broad-based consultation process with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies.'" - Vindu Goel and Salman Masood, New York Times
otf  pakistan  facebook  google  twitter  social  censorship  southasia  asia 
27 days ago by dmcdev
Dangerzone Lets You Open Email Attachments Safely
"Opening email attachments from untrusted senders has long been one of the easiest ways to get hacked. But unlike other common security screwups—using 'password' for your password, downloading pirated software from shady websites—there's no practical way for a modern human to avoid opening the occasional mystery-meat attachment. Now one technologist has produced a solution. Micah Lee, the head of information security for First Look Media, plans to release an alpha version of a free tool called Dangerzone on GitHub a week from Sunday, timed to a talk about it at the Nullcon conference in Goa, India. Dangerzone is a simple quarantine program that allows anyone to sanitize untrusted documents, neutering any tracking beacons, malicious scripts, or other nastiness that those files might carry." - Andy Greenberg, WIRED
otf  dangerzone  email  encryption  security  pdf  attachment 
27 days ago by dmcdev
In Kashmir, a spree of arrests for alleged ‘misuse’ of social media and VPNs
"In Kashmir, there has been a surge of interest in VPN applications after the government allowed limited access to 329 websites in January, after six months of a complete internet shutdown. Keen to clamp down on VPN use, the security forces first resorted to physical checks of smartphones, as multiple Kashmir residents told Then, on February 17, the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s cyber wing filed a first information report on the alleged 'misuse of social media' through VPNs. The FIR invoked the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons.

According to police officials, there have been no arrests directly under the cyber police’s FIR. But it has kicked into motion several arrests under FIRs filed at the district level. tracked down at least five cases of arrest since February 17, all for social media and VPN use." - Safwat Zargar,

+ Quartz reports on how some Kashmiris have fallen prey to sketchy VPNs in attempting to circumvent the blocks, resulting in lost photos and breached social media accounts.
otf  kashmir  vpn  circumvention  social  india  southasia  asia  access  shutdown  blackout 
27 days ago by dmcdev
In Coronavirus Fight, China Gives Citizens a Color Code, With Red Flags
"As China encourages people to return to work despite the coronavirus outbreak, it has begun a bold mass experiment in using data to regulate citizens’ lives — by requiring them to use software on their smartphones that dictates whether they should be quarantined or allowed into subways, malls and other public spaces. But a New York Times analysis of the software’s code found that the system does more than decide in real time whether someone poses a contagion risk. It also appears to share information with the police, setting a template for new forms of automated social control that could persist long after the epidemic subsides...The Times’s analysis found that as soon as a user grants the software access to personal data, a piece of the program labeled 'reportInfoAndLocationToPolice' sends the person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to a server. The software does not make clear to users its connection to the police. But according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency and an official police social media account, law enforcement authorities were a crucial partner in the system’s development." - Paul Mozur, Raymond Zhong and Aaron Krolik, New York Times

+ Vox: China has censored the Archive of Our Own, one of the internet’s largest fanfiction websites
otf  china  coronavirus  surveillance  asia  censorship  fanfic 
27 days ago by dmcdev
Kashmir’s Internet Has Been Cut Off For Almost Seven Months, The Longest Blackout In History
"On August 5, India’s government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir a measure of autonomy. The government split the state, a region disputed between India and Pakistan, into two territories. Supporters of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party hailed the move, while Kashmiris, many of whom want to see Kashmir join Pakistan or become independent, were angered. To prevent public opposition from turning into open rebellion, India’s government detained Kashmiri politicians, arrested thousands of activists and academics, and imposed a complete communications blackout. Overnight, mobile phones and landlines stopped working, broadband lines were frozen, and text messaging stopped. Over the last six months, the government has relaxed some of these restrictions: Landline phones came back after five weeks, and in December, people who had postpaid mobile connections found they could make calls again. Last month, texting was allowed again, and eventually large swathes of Kashmir were able to access, at glacial speeds, a few hundred government-approved websites — which excluded social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and messaging apps like WhatsApp. The lockdown continues despite India’s Supreme Court in January deeming “indefinite” suspension of internet services illegal.

'This internet shutdown is a human rights violation,' said Irfan Mehraj, a researcher at the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a federation of human rights organizations in Kashmir that releases an annual report of Kashmir’s human rights situation each year. 'It’s to break the will of the Kashmiri people.'" - Pranav Dixit, BuzzFeed News
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  access  asia  southasia 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Coronavirus Weakens China’s Powerful Propaganda Machine
"Exhausted medical workers with faces lined from hours of wearing goggles and surgical masks. Women with shaved heads, a gesture of devotion. Retirees who donate their life savings anonymously in government offices. Beijing is tapping its old propaganda playbook as it battles the relentless coronavirus outbreak, the biggest challenge to its legitimacy in decades. State media is filling smartphones and airwaves with images and tales of unity and sacrifice aimed at uniting the people behind Beijing’s rule. It even briefly offered up cartoon mascots named Jiangshan Jiao and Hongqi Man, characters meant to stir patriotic feelings among the young during the crisis. The problem for China’s leaders: This time, it isn’t working so well.

Online, people are openly criticizing state media. They have harshly condemned stories of individual sacrifice when front-line medical personnel still lack basic supplies like masks. They shouted down Jiangshan Jiao and Hongqi Man. They have heaped scorn on images of the women with shaved heads, asking whether the women were pressured to do it and wondering why similar images of men weren’t appearing." - New York Times

+ Wall Street Journal: China’s Virus Censorship and Propaganda Draw Backlash
otf  coronavirus  china  asia  gfw  censorship  propaganda  media 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Targeted, cut off, and left in the dark: how internet shutdowns became an even greater threat to human rights in 2019 - Access Now
Access Now published the 2019 edition of their annual #KeepItOn report, chronicling Internet shutdowns worldwide over the course of the year:

"2019 marked a year of growing damage to human rights brought by internet shutdowns. Access Now’s STOP Project, in collaboration with the #KeepItOn coalition, recorded at least 213 shutdowns in 2019, higher than 2018. As shutdowns are increasing in number, they are at the same time lasting longer, affecting more people, and more increasingly being targeted at vulnerable groups. Governments like Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Indonesia have cut the internet in an effort to stifle the voices of specific populations, such as members of oppressed or marginalized minority groups, refugees, and others whose human rights are at risk. In Africa, nationwide shutdowns were common in 2019, often before or during protests, political instability, and elections.

"While there were 25 countries that shut down the internet in 2018, we have documented at least 33 countries in 2019. Alarmingly, countries that had never shut down the internet, or that hadn’t done so in 2017 or 2018, joined the list in 2019 — indicating that more and more countries are resorting to shutdowns. Such countries include Benin, Eritrea, Gabon, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mauritania. As more shutdowns happen in contexts where grave human rights violations are occurring, they are also becoming increasingly difficult to detect, verify, and confirm. In 2019, we had a difficult time verifying shutdowns as they occurred in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, and other countries either because there was a violent conflict in the background or because they targeted a specific village or town."

Read the full report (pdf) here.

+ ICYMI. from WITNESS: Documenting During Internet Shutdowns

+ Wall Street Journal: Internet Shutdowns Become a Favorite Tool of Governments: ‘It’s Like We Suddenly Went Blind’
otf  keepiton  shutdown  access  blackout 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Firefox to enable DNS-over-HTTPS by default to US users
"Mozilla will bring its new DNS-over-HTTPS security feature to all Firefox users in the U.S. by default in the coming weeks, the browser maker has confirmed. It follows a year-long effort to test the new security feature, which aims to make browsing the web more secure and private. Whenever you visit a website — even if it’s HTTPS enabled — the DNS query that converts the web address into an IP address that computers can read is usually unencrypted. DNS-over-HTTPS, or DoH, encrypts the request so that it can’t be intercepted or hijacked in order to send a user to a malicious site. These unencrypted DNS queries can also be used to snoop on which websites a user visits." - Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

+ Mozilla's blog post announcing the rollout: Firefox continues push to bring DNS over HTTPS by default for US users
otf  mozilla  dns  doh  https  encryption  security  firefox 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Apple, Tell Us More About Your App Store Takedowns
Electronic Frontier Foundation

"EFF and 10 human rights organizations called out Apple for enabling China's censorship and surveillance regime through overly broad content restrictions on the App Store in China, and for its decision to move iCloud backups and encryption keys to within China. In a letter to Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president and App Store lead, the groups asked for more transparency about App Store takedowns and to meet with Apple executives to discuss the company's decisions and ways Apple can rectify harms against Apple users most affected by the removals."

Among the organizations who signed on to the joint letter were, EFF, and representatives from Tibet Action Institute, and World Uyghur Congress. Read the full letter here.

+ "Apple could be forced to disclose details of censorship requests from China and other nations after two major shareholder groups backed a proposal that would force the tech firm to make new human rights commitments. The motion, set to be voted on by the company’s investors on Wednesday, was prompted by numerous allegations of Apple kowtowing to Beijing and blocking apps from being used by Chinese customers." via The Guardian: Apple may be forced to disclose censorship requests from China
otf  apple  china  censorship 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Myanmar students face charges over internet shutdown protest: student union
"A Myanmar student union said on Monday police were seeking to press charges against nine of its members for organizing a protest against an eight-month-long internet shutdown in the restive west of the country. Around 100 students gathered in the commercial capital of Yangon on Sunday demanding an end to the internet cut-off in Rakhine and Chin states, where civilian casualties are mounting as government troops battle ethnic rebels. A case has been filed under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law, which outlaws unauthorized assemblies and carries a maximum three-month prison sentence, the Arakan Student Union said in a statement on Sunday. 'We are students and citizens pointing out the wrongdoings of government,” Kyaw Linn, one of the students who took part, told Reuters by phone. “They violated our citizens’ rights.'" - Reuters
otf  myanmar  burma  shutdown  access  asia  SoutheastAsia  rakhine  Rohingya 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
China’s Digital Wall Around Tibet
"The border’s near impenetrable nature was also a lifeline: from 1959 until 2008, thousands of Tibetans a year made the arduous trek across the mountain range to safety. Today, there are an estimated 150,000 Tibetans living abroad, in India, Nepal, or western countries including the U.S. and Canada. Nearly all can trace their freedom to a perilous Himalayan journey that was difficult for Chinese occupying forces to patrol effectively. Until now. In recent years, the flow of refugees from Tibet has almost completely stopped. In 2007, about 3,000 Tibetans entered India; that number dwindled to only 80 by 2017. The reason is not, as China wants the world to believe, an improving situation in Tibet – in fact, nearly every human rights group believes repression there is at its highest level in decades...

"The 97% drop in refugee numbers escaping Tibet is due to new technology which has allowed China to build a nearly impassable digital and securitized border wall along its southern and western borders. In Tibet, and also in Xinjiang, the homeland of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims which has become a widely reported technological dystopia, the border is patrolled by drones, cameras and an interconnected system that allows soldiers to rapidly monitor – and apprehend – any Tibetan, Uyghur, or Kazakh attempting to flee. The digital wall also prevents the vast majority from even trying." - Nithin Coca, Coda Story
otf  tibet  china  surveillance  asia 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Grindr Introduces Discreet App Icon Feature for All Users
"As part of its continued commitment to the safety and security of its users, Grindr has made its Discreet App Icon feature available to all Grindr users. The company has also released two new language versions of its Holistic Security Guide. The Discreet App Icon provides users with the option of replacing the Grindr app image on their phone with another symbol. The feature was developed in collaboration with Article 19 (the London-based human rights organization), The Guardian Project, and Grindr for Equality to help protect users when there is the possibility that someone may look at their phone and recognize that they are LGBTQ. Grindr first made the feature available in countries where gay, bi, and trans people are in the most danger, and now is launching the feature for all users."- Grindr press release
otf  grindr  lgbtq  app  security  guardian  article19 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Togo: Instant messaging apps blocked amid 2020 election
OTF-supported OONI reports on the blocking of instant message apps WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger during Togo's presidential election, held on Saturday, February 22nd. Research gathered using OONI Probe "...suggest the blocking of the WhatsApp mobile app and Telegram Web, as well as the potential blocking of Facebook Messenger. All three instant messaging platforms appear to have been blocked on the Togo Telecom (AS24691) and Atlantique Telecom (AS37229) networks, but were accessible on the Canalbox (AS36924) network. This suggests that internet censorship varies across networks in Togo.

"As the blocking of WhatsApp endpoints involved IP addresses that are part of the Amazon AWS Cloud, the block might have potentially led to interference of other services reliant on the Amazon Cloud. However, the block was lifted by 24th February 2020, suggesting that any potential collateral damage was probably short-lived. Similarly, OONI measurements show that Telegram Web and Facebook Messenger are accessible across networks in Togo from 24th February 2020 onwards. As the network anomalies observed for WhatsApp, Telegram Web, and Facebook Messenger in Togo are mostly limited to 22nd February 2020, the platforms may have been blocked in correlation to the country’s presidential election on that day."
otf  togo  ooni  election  africa  censorship  whatsapp  telegram  messenger 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Here's How China Is Hunting Down Coronavirus Critics
"As China ramps up efforts to control the narrative around the coronavirus outbreak, it is also expanding its efforts to leverage online platforms to track down people who dare to speak out. From tracking down Twitter users using their mobile numbers to hacking WeChat accounts to find out someone's location, Beijing is eager to stop any negative news from being shared online — and is will to use intimidation, arrests and threats of legal action." - David Gilbert, VICE

+ New York Times (video): China Is Censoring Coronavirus Stories. These Citizens Are Fighting Back.
otf  china  asia  gfw  coronavirus  censorship  access  wechat  twitter  social 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
China stifles foreign internet to control coronavirus coverage
"Beijing is tightening access to the uncensored global internet, while carefully controlling its domestic news reports, to increase its grip on the media narrative around the coronavirus epidemic. China’s most popular VPN services, which allow foreign businesses and locals to circumvent internet censorship, have faced an onslaught of government attacks in recent weeks. As a result, some users are finding it more difficult to access censored websites, such as Google, Twitter and most foreign newspapers...Despite the government’s efforts, Chinese citizens have grown increasingly distrustful of state cover-ups, and some are looking to alternative sources for news about the outbreak. Daily traffic to GreatFire’s, a website that allows Chinese users to browse uncensored foreign news articles, has roughly doubled since January 25, two days after the epidemic centre of Wuhan began its lockdown.

'Despite the wide availability of domestic news about the coronavirus, Chinese people are still looking to overseas, uncensored platforms, for more information. This is a very strong sign that most Chinese people do not trust the authorities to tell them the truth about the virus,' said Charlie Smith of GreatFire, an internet censorship monitoring organisation [note: OTF has supported GreatFire projects]...According to GreatFire’s Circumvention Central, a website that allows users to test the stability of their VPNs, the stability of Astrill, another big VPN service used in China, dipped in January to a four-year low. The number of people testing their VPNs using Circumvention Central has also increased in the past month, usually a sign that VPN users are experiencing problems." - Yuan Yang, Financial Times
otf  china  asia  gfw  coronavirus  censorship  access  circumvention  vpn  greatfire 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter
"[Ali] Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, a colleague on Twitter’s global media team, regularly accessed and delivered information that could’ve led Saudi intelligence to identify anonymous dissidents. While news of the allegations against them has been public since November 2019, the extent of their roles and abilities inside the company have never previously been reported. Alzabarah, Abouammo, and al-Asaker did not respond to requests for comment. Though Azabarah fled, he and Abouammo, who remained in the US, are currently indicted in United States federal court on charges of acting as undeclared agents of the Saudi government. No matter the verdict, the case has exposed tech companies’ vulnerability to attempted foreign infiltration. One well-placed employee can potentially do extensive damage." - Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeed News
otf  saudi  saudiarabia  mena  twitter  social  surveillance  awareness  security 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
Egypt and China’s Telecoms: A Concerning Courtship
"Since Beijing announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—its plan to create strategic infrastructure connecting Africa, Europe, and Asia to China—in 2013, Egypt has become a key area of investment. By 2012, China had already surpassed the United States as the primary exporter of goods to Egypt, and in 2014 Egypt and China signed a 'comprehensive strategic partnership' agreement. This blooming relationship comes at an opportune moment for Cairo, which hopes to woo foreign investors into an economy that in 2016 reached the brink of crisis...

"...continuing Egyptian demand and Chinese firms’ growing exports make the possibility of deeper Sino-Egyptian cooperation worrisome. Privacy rights watchdogs have criticized Egypt for its surveillance of activists, dissidents, and other citizens, and legislative changes have weakened protections for privacy and free expression. Were they introduced to Egypt, China’s advances in areas like facial recognition would likely accelerate these trends and could give China access to sensitive data (as they have in countries like Zimbabwe)." - Allison McManus, non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for for Middle East Policy, writing for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Power 3.0 blog
otf  china  egypt  surveillance  export  mena 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
EU Commission to staff: Switch to Signal messaging app
EU Commission recommends its employees use Signal "for communications between staff and people outside the institution," Politico reports. Note that OTF previously provided support for the development of Signal.

"The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications. The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that 'Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging.' The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology...Signal was developed in 2013 by privacy activists. It is supported by a nonprofit foundation that has the backing of WhatsApp founder Brian Acton, who had left the company in 2017 after clashing with Facebook's leadership." – Lauren Cerulus, Politico
otf  eu  signal  app  encryption  e2e  messaging  security  privacy  europe  ows  openwhispersystems 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
Indian police open case against Kashmir social media users
"Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have registered a case against unidentified internet users who employed virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent a social media ban in the disputed region, police said Tuesday, in an apparent effort to stop their use. Police said they misused social media 'to propagate a secessionist ideology and promote unlawful activities.'

'Hundreds of suspected misusers have been identified and are being probed,' said Tahir Ashraf, who heads the police cyber division in Srinagar, the region’s main city. Police said in a statement Monday that they have seized 'a lot of incriminating material,' adding that the accused could be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which also allows the government to designate individuals as 'terrorists.' Police officials questioned several users about their social media posts. However, no formal arrests have been made." - Sheikh Saaliq, AP

+ "While surveillance technology has proliferated in India over the last decade, institutional and legal safeguards have not kept pace. The Indian Parliament has yet to enact a data protection law, and the courts have failed to adequately grapple with the ethical and constitutional challenges posed by invasive new technologies. The Indian public, for its part, has largely shrugged off the steady creep of the surveillance state, which now collects huge amounts of data in a legal and judicial vacuum—and at times in open defiance of the law and judicial orders.

"India’s neighbor to the north, China, looms large in international media as an Orwellian state, with its expanding use of facial recognition technology and invasive data collection practices. By contrast, India is often portrayed as a chaotic democracy, its government far weaker and less capable than the fine-tuned autocracy in Beijing. That image belies the changing reality in India, where the government’s embrace of powerful new surveillance technologies increasingly threatens the rights of its people."

- via Foreign Affairs: India’s Growing Surveillance State
otf  kindia  kashmir  vpn  circumvention  social  access  asia  southasia 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
Ethiopia passes law imposing jail terms for internet posts that stir unrest
"Ethiopia’s parliament passed a law on Thursday imposing jail terms for people whose internet posts stir unrest, a move the government says is needed to prevent violence ahead of elections but which the United Nations says will stifle free speech. Ethiopia, for decades one of the most tightly controlled states in Africa, has undergone huge political change since reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office two years ago. But even as Abiy has freed political prisoners and journalists and lifted a ban on opposition parties, the authorities have struggled to contain a surge in ethnic violence. An election this year is seen as the biggest test yet of whether his ambitious political reforms can stick. The new law permits fines of up to 100,000 Ethiopian birr ($3,000) and imprisonment for up to five years for anyone who shares or creates social media posts that are deemed to result in violence or disturbance of public order." - Dawit Endeshaw, Reuters
otf  ethiopia  policy  legislation  law  foe  africa 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
Pakistan's government approves new social media rules, opponents cry foul
"Under regulations that were approved by the cabinet late last month but were not immediately made public, social media companies will be obliged to help law enforcement agencies access data and to remove online content deemed unlawful. Companies that do not comply with the rules risk being blocked online, according to a copy of the regulations seen by Reuters. The approval of the new rules follows accusations by opposition parties that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has sought to intimidate and silence its opponents and allegations of media censorship. Pakistan’s military has also faced accusations of cracking down on media and free speech." - Asif Shahzad, Reuters

+ Coda Story checks in on the status of Pakistan's launch of a nationwide "web monitoring system", which Coda first reported in October 2019. In a story published today, Coda reports that they received confirmation from the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) that the system " now fully operational across Pakistan."
otf  pakistan  asia  southasia  policy  legislation  social  socialmedia  foe  censorship  content 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
U.S. accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets, assisting Iran
"U.S. prosecutors on Thursday accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and helping Iran track protesters in its latest indictment against the Chinese company, escalating the U.S. battle with the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker. In the indictment, which supersedes one unsealed last year in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Huawei Technologies Co was charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from six U.S. technology companies and to violate a racketeering law typically used to combat organized crime.

It also contains new allegations about the company’s involvement in countries subject to sanctions. Among other accusations, it says Huawei installed surveillance equipment in Iran that was used to monitor, identify, and detain protesters during the 2009 anti-government demonstrations in Tehran." - Karen Freifeld, Reuters

You can read the full indictment here (pdf)

+ "...All three men said that simply by carrying a phone, they felt that they were still in the grip of the Chinese state — that the government was always watching them, able to listen in, demand that they become informers or threaten their loved ones." via Coda Story, How China spies on Uyghurs in Turkey
otf  china  huawei  iran  surveillance  export  uyghur 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Myanmar: Lift Internet Restrictions in Rakhine and Chin States
A joint statement signed by 29 organizations including Fortify Rights, Amnesty International and Article 19 "call[s] on the Government of Myanmar to immediately lift restrictions on mobile internet communications in eight townships in Rakhine State and one township in Chin State. We are particularly concerned by the Government of Myanmar’s recent reinstatement of restrictions on mobile internet access in five townships on February 3, 2020, after lifting restrictions in those townships earlier. We call on the Government of Myanmar to release publicly the justification for the internet shutdown and all information related to the process by which these restrictions were imposed...

"The almost eight-month blackout in Kyauktaw, Minbya, Mrauk-U, and Ponnagyun townships is one of the world’s longest government-imposed shutdowns of mobile internet communications. The internet restrictions disproportionately affect civilians in conflict areas, hampering humanitarian aid operations, livelihoods, and the work of human rights monitors. The shutdown appears to be a response by the Government of Myanmar to the ongoing conflict between the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army and the Myanmar military. An escalation in fighting since the start of 2019 has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in conflict-affected townships in Rakhine and Chin states."
otf  myanmar  burma  shutdown  access  asia  SoutheastAsia  rohingya  rakhine  chin 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Russia's security service tells internet firms to hand over user data: The Bell
"Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has ordered some of the country's major internet companies to give it continuous access to their systems, The Bell investigative website reported late on Tuesday, citing three sources at the firms. It said the measure would affect a string of Russian internet services that have been added to a list of entities obliged to hand over user data and messages to Russian law enforcement agencies on request. The list, drawn up by Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, contains more than 200 entities such as popular messenger service Telegram, some Yandex services, social network VK and classified advertisement website

"Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the report. The Bell said the orders, which the companies received last year, demanded they install equipment allowing FSB employees to have continuous access to their information systems and the keys to decode users' communications. Companies that fail to comply can be blocked." - Reuters
otf  russia  fsb  access  surveillance  Roskomnadzor  vk  privacy  data 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
India keeps lid on Kashmir's internet 6 months into lockdown
"Six months after India’s government stripped restive Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and enforced a total communications blackout, it is heralding the restoration of limited, slow-speed internet as a step toward normalcy. But for the Himalayan region’s 7 million people, the reality is far different. They are only allowed to access government-approved websites. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter remain blocked. And while users can access YouTube and Netflix, the internet service is too slow to stream video.

Some Kashmiris are evading censors by using virtual private networks, or VPNs, which are widely employed globally to access restricted websites, but Indian authorities are looking for ways to clamp down on those, too. 'Frankly, let’s call it what it is: It’s still an internet shutdown and a blanket censorship of the internet,' said Nikhil Pahwa, a New Delhi-based digital rights activist. 'Can you imagine this being done to Delhi?'" - Aijaz Hussain and Sheikh Saaliq, AP
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  blackout  access  censorship  asia  southasia 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
The internet has no room for tyrants
"Today, enemies of a free internet invest more than ever in censorship and surveillance technology," writes Open Technology Fund (OTF) CEO Libby Liu in an op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times ahead of next week's St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs. "To date, China and Russia have provided state-of-the-art technology to more than 108 countries, including advanced surveillance technologies and training on 'online information management.' Online censorship and surveillance have become global problems."

In response, "[f]ighting this threat requires a focused and fresh approach -- one that is user-focused and powered by a multidisciplinary mission-driven community," Liu says. "...This year, having proven we can successfully fight back, OTF has emerged as a new independent corporation to enable the US Agency for Global Media -- the agency that oversees RFA, Voice of America and RFERL, Alhurra and Radio/TV Marti -- to expand its internet freedom work and maximize its impact. With 90 percent of USAGM media networks’ audiences relying on the internet for news and information, they need the tools to access objective news safe from censorship and surveillance, as do our journalists, stringers, and sources, who are constantly exposed to threat.

"Tyrants and their enablers have made it clear that they will do and spend whatever it takes to distort the internet in their own image of control, power, profit and repression. The United States and its allies must act together to protect the internet as a democratic space for free expression and human dignity. The new Open Technology Fund is just one way to defend the world-wide web and empower people everywhere to join the fight."

Read the full op-ed here.
otf  usagm  netfreedom  censorship  surveillance  access  awareness 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Signal Is Finally Bringing Its Secure Messaging to the Masses
WIRED reports on the growth and development of Signal (an app previously supported by OTF) which "is finally reaching that mass audience it was always been intended for," as Andy Greenberg writes:

"That new phase in Signal's evolution began two years ago this month. That's when WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, a few months removed from leaving the app he built amid post-acquisition clashes with Facebook management, injected $50 million into [Signal creator Moxie] Marlinspike's end-to-end encrypted messaging project. Acton also joined the newly created Signal Foundation as executive chairman. The pairing up made sense; WhatsApp had used Signal's open-source protocol to encrypt all WhatsApp communications end-to-end by default, and Acton had grown disaffected with what he saw as Facebook's attempts to erode WhatsApp's privacy. Since then, Marlinspike's nonprofit has put Acton's millions—and his experience building an app with billions of users—to work. After years of scraping by with just three overworked full-time staffers, the Signal Foundation now has 20 employees. For years a bare-bones texting and calling app, Signal has increasingly become a fully featured, mainstream communications platform...

'The major transition Signal has undergone is from a three-person small effort to something that is now a serious project with the capacity to do what is required to build software in the world today,' Marlinspike says."
otf  signal  whatsapp  encryption  e2e  security  privacy 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
How Nigeria’s police used telecom surveillance to lure and arrest journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports on how journalists Samuel Ogundipe and Azeezat Adedigba of Nigeria's Premium Times had their communications surveilled by authorities following critical reporting, with police then using that access and information to detain the reporters' sources. The sources were then coerced into helping the police arrest the journalists:

"On August 9, 2018, Ogundipe published an article about a communication between Nigeria’s police chief and vice president. Days later, police investigating his source issued a written summons, CPJ reported at the time. It was not addressed to Ogundipe and made no mention of his article or the charges he would later face of theft and possession of police documents. Instead, as Ogundipe recounted, police called Adedigba for questioning in connection with a slew of serious crimes, allegations that evaporated after police used her phone to summon her friend to the station. Ogundipe’s experience is one of at least three cases since 2017 where police from across Nigeria used phone records to lure and then arrest journalists currently facing criminal charges for their work. In each case, police used the records to identify people with a relationship to a targeted journalist, detained those people, and then forced them to facilitate the arrest. The police methods reinforce the value of internet-based, encrypted communications at a time when authorities have also targeted journalists’ phones and computers to reveal their sources. Those prosecuted in all three cases are free on bail." - Jonathan Rozen, CPJ
otf  nigeria  surveillance  press  media  cpj  journalism  africa  encryption 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Glitches Mar Russia’s Internet Isolation Test – RBC
"Russian providers experienced slow connections and disruptions during test runs last fall for compliance with Russia’s so-called internet isolation law, according to the providers’ report to the government cited by the RBC news website Monday. At least one provider in Russia’s Urals Federal District said it was unable to block the popular messaging app Telegram, which a federal court banned in 2018 over encryption keys. Overall, five providers reported slowdowns, low-quality signals and even temporary outages during the tests, according to RBC...The providers reportedly submitted their reports detailing the glitches they had encountered in the Urals, which encompass six regions in central Russia, to the Communications Ministry in late November. Tools including deep package inspection (DPI) were installed throughout the district between August and September but were 'switched on for short periods' in November 2019, RBC reported. At least three providers reported having no connectivity issues during the tests." - The Moscow Times
otf  russia  shutdown  test  blackout  access  intranet 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Here’s How China Is Silencing Coronavirus Critics in the U.S.
"Last Thursday, with the coronavirus death toll hurtling past 500 and no sign of new infections slowing down, Mr. Yan decided he wanted to share his anger at the government’s botched response to the outbreak. So the 36-year-old data scientist, who lives in Washington, D.C., posted links to a series of articles critical of Chinese President Xi Jinping to a WeChat group with about 22 other people. At first, everything appeared to be normal, but then Yan realized that his friends in China were not seeing any of his posts. Only the two other U.S.-based group members and one in the Philippines had seen what he posted...

"Yan’s case is not isolated. VICE News spoke to dozens of WeChat users in the U.S. and Canada, as well as some users in the U.K., France, Spain, Australia, Germany, and Malaysia, who reported identical problems with their accounts as they tried to share information with their family and friends in China. The restrictions prevent international users from sending information to contacts in China, and in some cases they have also had their accounts suspended or blocked completely and accused of “spreading malicious rumors.” In many cases, the censorship means their only communication link to people inside China has been cut off completely." - David Gilbert, Vice

+ Reuters: China's online censors tighten grip after brief coronavirus respite
otf  china  coronavirus  censorship  foe  speech  asia  gfw  wechat  publichealth 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
U.S. Officials Say Huawei Can Covertly Access Telecom Networks
"U.S. officials say Huawei Technologies Co. can covertly access mobile-phone networks around the world through 'back doors' designed for use by law enforcement, as Washington tries to persuade allies to exclude the Chinese company from their networks. Intelligence shows Huawei has had this secret capability for more than a decade, U.S. officials said. Huawei rejected the allegations. The U.S. kept the intelligence highly classified until late last year, when U.S. officials provided details to allies including the U.K. and Germany, according to officials from the three countries. That was a tactical turnabout by the U.S., which in the past had argued that it didn’t need to produce hard evidence of the threat it says Huawei poses to nations’ security." - Bojan Pancevski, Wall Street Journal

+ "China’s biggest military technology company has set up a national laboratory to research advanced policing technologies such as crime prediction and emotion recognition, giving its first wave of grants to academics across China — as well as one lab in the UK. The flagship lab, which does not have a physical presence but is a network of researchers, is owned by China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, a state-owned defence company that has longstanding partnerships with the Chinese police and military...The new lab has partnerships with China’s central police training academy in Beijing, as well as with local police in Xinjiang. Its only physical locations appear to be the Urumqi research centre and another facility in Beijing." via Financial Times: China sets up national laboratory for advanced policing
otf  china  asia  huawei  security  privacy  surveillance  police  xinjiang  uyghur 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Singapore ‘falsehoods’ law shows perils of fake news fight
"Singapore’s four-month-old law against 'online falsehoods' has drawn the city state into legal fights with a political opposition party, an independent news outlet and neighbouring Malaysia, in signs of the pitfalls of attempts to fight the fake news phenomenon. Under Singapore’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), the government can issue a 'correction notice' to an individual or organisation if it deems online content about a public institution to be false or misleading and amending it to be in the public interest. The law has been deployed nine times since being adopted in October. Critics of the law say the primary targets have been civil activists, NGOs and opposition figures — which the government says is an 'unfortunate coincidence'. Technology companies, academics and human rights groups have raised concerns over the latitude the law grants the government. But countries including Nigeria and Thailand have said they are aiming to emulate Singapore’s legislation." - Stefania Palma, Neil Munshi, and John Reed, Financial Times
otf  singapore  SoutheastAsia  asia  fakenews  disinfo  misinfo  thailand  nigeria  policy 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Kashmir journalists accuse Indian police of muzzling press
"Journalists in disputed Kashmir urged the Indian government on Monday to allow them to report freely and expressed concern about alleged police harassment since the region’s semi-autonomy was rescinded in August amid an unprecedented lockdown. The Kashmir Press Club, an elected body of journalists in the region, said security agencies were using physical attacks, threats and summons to intimidate journalists. The group said the government should 'ensure freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in the constitution instead of muzzling the press'...It also criticized restrictions on the internet and surveillance by police, calling them 'tools designed and aimed to ensure only the government-promoted version is heard.'" - AP

+ "In Kashmir, there has been a surge in interest in VPN applications after the government recently allowed access to only 329 'whitelisted' websites after nearly six months of internet shutdown. The government has not explained why access was restored to such a limited number of websites. With many popular social media sites not being included on the government’s whitelist, Kashmiris have turned to VPN applications to get around the restrictions. In South Kashmir, this has given rise to a new kind of tension between civilians and the army. According to residents in several Kulgam villages, army personnel allegedly check the phones of youth for VPN apps. If such apps are found, the youth are allegedly thrashed." via Safwat Zargar, ‘VPN for terrorism’: In Kashmir, youth allege their phones are checked by the army for masking apps
otf  india  kashmir  conflict  access  shutdown  press  media  asia  southasia 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
What do we know about the 'Great Firewall of India'?
"After five months of complete internet shutdown in the federally-administered Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, only partial internet access has been restored after the interference of the Indian Supreme Court on January 10, which called the shutdown 'unconstitutional'’.'Freedom of internet access is a fundamental right', said Justice N. V. Ramana who was a part of the bench that gave this verdict. This shutdown marks the longest ever internet shutdown in any democracy around the world, and is viewed by experts as a potential signal of the rise of the ‘'Great Firewall of India'’. The term 'great firewall' is used to refer to the set of legislative and technical tools deployed by the Chinese government to control information online, including by blocking access to foreign services and preventing politically sensitive content from entering the domestic network.

"While the Chinese firewall has evolved as a very sophisticated internet censorship infrastructure, the Indian one is yet to get organized into a large-scale and complex structure. India's tactics to control information online include banning entire websites and services, shutting down networks and pressuring social media content to remove content on vague grounds." - Subhashish Panigrahi, Global Voices Advox
otf  india  shutdown  access  kashmir  china  asia  southasia  gfw  censorship 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Jordan's online censorship decisions: non-transparent and —at times— arbitrary
"The Jordanian government is increasingly monitoring and restricting access to online content, possibly as a direct result of the Arab Spring protests, during which protesters made use of online platforms to organize and disseminate news about events on the ground. At times, this moderation leads to censorship that comes in the form of blocking websites, citing failure to obtain a press and publications law license. Other times, it manifests through the restriction of entire services, from access to messaging apps like WhatsApp during Tawjihi (university) exams to blocking an online LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) magazine. In Jordan, online censorship has become almost normalized and at times arbitrary." - Raya Sharbain and Tina Maria Abu Hanna, Global Voices Advox
otf  mena  jordan  censorship  news  media  access 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Tech Giants Seek Hong Kong Alternative After U.S. Blocks Data Cable
"American tech giants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google are considering alternatives to Hong Kong as a global data hub after U.S. national security officials upended plans for a trans-Pacific internet link to the territory, according to people familiar with the matter. Google and Facebook Inc. last week asked U.S. authorities’ permission to start using the internet conduit’s branches to Taiwan and the Philippines while leaving its Chinese portion offline. The two companies helped fund the 8,000-mile Pacific Light Cable Network from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, and offered the compromise after a national security panel led by the Justice Department held up final approval to use the cable, which is already in place. In light of regulators’ refusal, other tech companies are, like Google, exploring destinations other than Hong Kong for future links, the people said. The U.S. concern reflects growing U.S. distrust of China’s technology ambitions, a stance exemplified by Washington’s fight against electronics heavyweight Huawei Technologies Co., they said." - Drew FitzGerald and Kate O’Keeffe, WSJ
otf  internet  asia  hongkong  hk  infrastructure  google  facebook 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Uganda’s proposed tax on internet data threatens the rights to freedom of expression and access to information
"ARTICLE 19 is concerned by a policy proposal to transform the Over-the-Top (or OTT) tax, which is paid via mobile money services, into an internet data tax in Uganda. On 14th January 2020, the Uganda Revenue Authority’s (or URA) Commissioner General, Doris Akol, reportedly proposed that the OTT tax be transformed into a full-fledged tax on internet data to be paid by users. This followed URA’s reported deficit of UGX 234.48 billion (2019) from its estimated OTT revenue target, due to ‘evasion and non-compliance’ by OTT users. The Ugandan government should refrain from further taxing users’ access to the Internet, and reject the Uganda Revenue Authority’s (or URA) suggestion to directly tax mobile internet bundles." - ARTICLE 19
otf  uganda  africa  ott  tax  socialmediatax  overthetop  law  policy  article19 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Exclusive: China's mobile giants to take on Google's Play store - sources
"China’s Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo are joining forces to create a platform for developers outside China to upload apps onto all of their app stores simultaneously, in a move analysts say is meant to challenge the dominance of Google’s Play store. The four companies are ironing out kinks in what is known as the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). The platform aims to make it easier for developers of games, music, movies and other apps to market their apps in overseas markets, according to people with knowledge of the matter." - David Kirton, Reuters
otf  china  asia  appstore  app  gfw  censorship  huawei  googleplay  gdsa 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
China's censors tried to control the narrative on a hero doctor's death. It backfired terribly
"The reaction on the Chinese internet as news of Li's death spread was immediate -- and almost unprecedented...As the grief and rage poured out, those in charge of China's vast censorship apparatus, the Great Firewall, seemed at a loss over what to do. Topics relating to censorship itself, usually absolutely verboten, trended for several hours before being deleted, rare evidence of indecision and confusion. On Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, two hashtags -- 'The Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology' and 'We want freedom of speech' -- attracted tens of thousands of views, before being deleted. Another hashtag, 'I want freedom of speech,' drew more than 1.8 million views in the early hours of Friday morning, before it too was censored...

"The fury and the pushback against the censorship apparatus itself has not been seen to this extent since the Wenzhou train crash in 2011, when authorities rushed to cover up the causes of a high-speed rail collision, even abandoning the search for survivors while many were still alive. That incident became a lightning rod for frustrations about poor safety standards in China and the uncaring attitudes of the authorities, just as it appears Li's death will be a conduit for anger over a host of issues beyond the virus." - James Griffiths, CNN

+ Reuters: Coronavirus brings China's surveillance state out of the shadows

+ BuzzFeed News: As Chinese Internet Users Try To Track The Coronavirus, Their Government Is Tracking Them

+ NPR: Critics Say China Has Suppressed And Censored Information In Coronavirus Outbreak
otf  china  coronavirus  asia  gfw  censorship  weibo  surveillance  publichealth 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Building an equitable tech + human rights ecosystem
A new research project conducted by The Engine Room and Open Society Foundations will focus on "find[ing] ways of making the technology and data for human rights ecosystem more sustainable, resilient and equitable." The Engine Room explained some of the venture's rationale and goals in a blog post announcing the project: "It will come as no surprise to many activists, organisations and grantmakers that there are large asymmetries of power in our community. Current funding models are seen to further entrench this imbalance, but we believe it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve witnessed a great deal of willingness and interest on all sides to come up with better options...In this new research project, we will be exploring the challenges and barriers to funding faced by actors within the tech/data for human rights space. In parallel, we’ll also be looking for examples of innovative and equitable funding practices that could help to mitigate these challenges, as well as strategies and ways of implementing these mechanisms across this ecosystem." - Madeleine Maxwell, The Engine Room

If you work in tech/human rights and have relevant experience to share, The Engine Room wants to hear from you. Check out the blog post for how to get in touch.
otf  funding  funders  engineroom  osf  research 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Russia Proposes Internet Ecosystem to Protect Users From ‘Foreign Influence’ – Report
"Russia’s state-controlled telecommunications provider is proposing a 260-billion-ruble ($4.1 billion) online ecosystem to 'protect users from foreign influence,' the Kommersant business daily reported Wednesday. Rostelecom’s so-called roadmap reportedly envisions the creation of state-run messengers, gaming services, browsers and operating systems. The telecom provider’s ambitious proposal also includes state-controlled content recommendation systems and speech and gesture recognition in addition to virtual and augmented reality technology, the publication reported...The roadmap is part of President Vladimir Putin’s centerpiece National Projects program, which aims to stimulate the economy through 12 state-centric projects. Rostelecom’s proposal for a state-run online ecosystem is named among the digital economy project’s more expensive roadmaps." - The Moscow Times

+ via Meduza's “The Naked Pravda” podcast: ‘RuNet Sovereignty’: How Russia is trying to isolate its Internet segment from the rest of the world, maybe
otf  russia  internetsovereignty  intranet  access 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
VPNs will change forever with the arrival of WireGuard into Linux
ZDNet reports on how WireGuard, an OTF-supported project, "will change how virtual private networks work first in Linux and then the rest of the VPN world":

"After years of development WireGuard, a revolutionary approach to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) was finally fast-tracked to the Linux kernel. Now, at long last, WireGuard is in Linus Torvald's code tree. That means WireGuard should appear in the Linux kernel 5.6 release. This may be as early as April 2020. This has the potential to change everything about VPNs -- not just in Linux, but in the entire VPN world. That's because essentially all VPN services run off Linux servers. Some VPN services, such as StrongVPN and Mullvad VPN, have already seen the writing on the wall and are moving their software stacks to WireGuard. This is being made easier because WireGuard's code, which is licensed under the open-source Gnu General Public License (GPL) version 2.0, is already available on Android, Windows, macOS, BSD Unix, and iOS. They're doing this because as one of WireGuard's biggest fans -- Linus Torvalds -- said: 'Can I just once again state my love for it and hope it gets merged soon? Maybe the code isn't perfect, but I've skimmed it, and compared to the horrors that are OpenVPN and IPSec, it's a work of art.'" - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet
otf  wireguard  vpn  linux  projectmentions  projects 
7 weeks ago by dmcdev
USCIRF Chair speaks on how Chinese surveillance threatens religious freedom
Speaking at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chair Tony Perkins said the following regarding the threat to religious freedom posted by the Chinese government's extensive use of surveillance technology:

"...[T]he Chinese government’s high-tech surveillance state presents a significant escalation in its war on religion. The government is reportedly using artificial intelligence systems that can combine information from video surveillance, facial and voice recognition, GPS tracking, and other data to track religious communities. During the past decade, it has installed hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras across the country, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibet, where facial recognition systems are used distinguish Uighurs and Tibetans from other ethnic groups. According to experts, this is the first time a government has intentionally used artificial intelligence for racial profiling. USCIRF has received reports that Chinese authorities even installed cameras on the pulpits of some churches, allowing authorities to identify and monitor anyone who attends services.

"Last September, USCIRF published a brief report about the Chinese government’s use of surveillance technology to target religious minorities. Our goal was to raise awareness of this issue within the United States government, and also to help start a discussion about how we can collectively respond to this unique threat to religious freedom. Because of the transnational nature of 21st century technology and trade, the United States cannot avoid this issue. Indeed, we have received reports that key components of the technology driving China’s surveillance state come from American businesses and researchers. This should concern us all. The information revolution is one of our country’s greatest contributions to human civilization, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that the fruits of American innovation are not distorted into an Orwellian dystopia."
otf  china  religion  ReligiousFreedom  USCIRF  asia  gfw  surveillance 
7 weeks ago by dmcdev
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