Last week, Citizen Lab and the AP published a blockbuster story revealing that Citizen Lab had been targeted by undercover operatives who pumped Lab employees for information on the group's work uncovering illegal surveillance operations undertaken by authoritarian governments using tools made by the notorious Israeli cyber-arms dealer NSO Group.
Citizen Lab (previously) is a world-renowned research group that specializes in deep, careful investigations into the nexus of state and private surveillance, outing everything from the Chinese spies who took over computers in Tibetan embassies around the world to the bizarre deployments of state-level cyberweapons against Mexicans who campaigned for limits on sugary sodas.
As American telcoms operators take up the practice of publishing transparency reports showing how many law-enforcement requests they receive, Canadian activists are wondering why Canada's telcoms sector hasn't followed suit. Citizen Lab, whose excellent work at the University of Toronto is documented in lab leader Ron Deibert's must-read book Black Code, has issued public letters addressed to the nation's phone companies and ISPs, formally requesting that they publish aggregate statistics on law-enforcement requests.
• One of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed
[Addendum 2/20/2020: Following a legal complaint, the Guardian removed its article of 14 June 2019 and apologised to Mrs Peel. We are happy to clarify that Yana Peel is not, and was not, personally involved in the operation or decisions of the regulated Novalpina Capital investment fund, which is managed by her husband Stephen Peel, and others. — Read the rest
Citizen Lab (previously) is one of the world's top research institutions documenting cyber-attacks against citizen groups, human rights activists, journalists and others; ten years ago, they made their reputation by breaking a giant story about "Ghostnet," malicious software that the Chinese state used to convert the computers of the world's Tibetan embassies into spying devices.
Citizen Lab has expanded its analysis of how censorship and filtering work on Chinese social media (previously). In (Can't) Picture This 2 An Analysis of WeChat's Realtime Image Filtering in Chats , researchers probe and document how Wechat complies with Chinese state censorship policies in private chats.
In 2016, Google announced that it was renaming its small Google Ideas unit to "Jigsaw," giving the new unit a much broader, "wildly ambitious" mandate: to tackle "surveillance, extremist indoctrination, and censorship."
Back in 1984, a lonely, weird kid calling himself Grandmaster Ratte' formed a hacker group in Lubbock, Texas. called the Cult of the Dead Cow, a name inspired by a nearby slaughterhouse. In the decades to come, cDc would become one of the dominant forces on the BBS scene and then the internet — endlessly inventive, funny and prankish, savvy and clever, and sometimes reckless and foolish — like punk-rock on a floppy disk.
Stalkerware — spyware sold to people as a means of keeping tabs on their romantic partners, kids, employees, etc — is a dumpster fire of terrible security (compounded by absentee management), sleazy business practices, and gross marketing targeted at abusive men who want to spy on women.
NSO Group is a notorious Israeli cyber-arms dealer whose long trail of sleaze has been thoroughly documented by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (which may or may not be related to an attempt to infiltrate Citizen Lab undertaken by a retired Israeli spy); NSO has been implicated in the murder and dismemberment of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (just one of the brutal dictatorships who've availed themselves of NSO tools), and there seems to be no cause too petty for their clients, which is why their malware has been used to target anti-soda activists in Mexico.
The NSO Group is an Israeli firm that has long marketed itself as a "cyber warfare" company, selling mobile surveillance technology to governments that include notoriously corrupt human rights abusers. One of these is Mexico, where NSO spyware played a key role in targeting teachers and journalists, and missing students. — Read the rest
Lori Stroud is an ex-NSA spy who also contracted with the NSA through Booz Allen, who says that after she left the NSA, she was recruited to work on Project Raven, a secret, offensive surveillance and digital attack squad working for the autocratic United Arab Emirates regime alongside other ex-US intelligence operatives, working with the knowledge and approval of the NSA.
Researchers from the University of Toronto's outstanding Citizen Lab (previously) have published their latest research on the notorious and prolific Israeli cyber-arms-dealer The NSO Group (previously), one of the world's go-to suppliers for tools used by despots to spy on dissidents and opposition figures, often as a prelude to their imprisonment, torture and murder.
As the European Parliament prepares for tomorrow's vote on the new Copyright Directive with its provisions requiring mass-scale filtering of all public communications to check for copyright infringement (Article 13) and its provisions requiring paid permission to link to the news if you include as little as two words from the headline in your link text (Article 11), a dismaying number of "creators groups" are supporting it, telling their members that this will be good for them and their flagging financial fortunes.
Researchers from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) have published an extensive report on the image filtering systems used by Chinese messaging giant Wechat to prevent the posting of banned political messages and other "sensitive" topics that are censored in China.
Wickr, a private, secure messaging company, has teamed up with Psiphon (previously), a spinout from Citizen Lab (previously) to allow its users to communicate even when they are behind national firewalls.
Project Dragonfly is a secret Google plan to create an Android-based search tool (early versions were called "Maotai" and "Longfei") for use in China (where Google is currently blocked), in collaboration with the Chinese government, where search results related to human rights, democracy, protest, religion and other "sensitive" topics will be censored.
Canada's two leading digital rights groups, CIPPIC (previously) and Citizen Lab (previously) have issued a joint report called Shining a Light on the Encryption Debate: A Canadian Field Guide , and every Canadian should read it.