Amnesty International: Google and Facebook spell trouble for human rights

Amnesty International has had just about all that it cares to take of Google and Facebook's profiting off of our personal information. In a recent report, the international human rights charity stated that they were deeply concerned that the two companies mass surveillance ventures were making large scale human rights violations an easy go for anyone with access to the information and ill-intent.

From TechCrunch:

“[D]espite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost,” Amnesty warns. “The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse. Firstly, an assault on the right to privacy on an unprecedented scale, and then a series of knock-on effects that pose a serious risk to a range of other rights, from freedom of expression and opinion, to freedom of thought and the right to non-discrimination.”

If this argument sounds vaguely familiar to you, then you've been paying attention to this nonsense. As TechCrunch points out, the points that Amnesty International makes have been brought before by the United Nations, Zeynep Tufekci and Shoshana Zuboff—an organization and pair of noted scholars anyone would do well to listen to.

This feels like a topic better left to Cory Doctorow to explain than a chump like me, but let's have a go at it anyway.

By agreeing to Facebook or Google's terms of service, you're agreeing to allowing them to use and abuse your private information. Read the rest

Amnesty International issues travel advisory for the United States of America

I'm pretty sure that we can all agree that shit has been well out-of-hand in the United States of America for some time now. Children are being taken from their parents and held in deplorable conditions. Folks are murdered for the color of their skin. Gun violence... yeah. It's bullshit. So, it should come as no surprise that a number of nations including New Zealand, The Bahamas, Germany and Japan have all issued travel advisories to their citizens, warning them that traveling to the U.S.A. could result in very bad things.  One could argue this away as politics. Amnesty International, however, hasn't got a nationalistic horse in this race. Today, they came out swinging with a statement as well, chatting up the fact that maybe visiting the 'States ain't such a great idea.

From Amnesty International:

 

Let's be honest: there's not a damn thing in there that isn't true.

Images via Amnesty International Read the rest

Lawyer involved in suits against Israel's most notorious cyber-arms dealer targeted by its weapons, delivered through a terrifying Whatsapp vulnerability

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. Read the rest

Let me tell you a story about Herman Wallace, who spent 41 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit

I read a lot. It's part of my job as a writer. Sadly, most of what I read these days is kind of terrible. We do awful things to one another. We've been doing it for a long time. Here's something terrible that I learned today.

In 1972, Herman Wallace was in the Louisiana State Penitentiary doing a stretch for armed robbery. While he was inside, one of the prison's guards was murdered. Wallace and two other black men--Robert King and Albert Woodfox--were convicted for the murder.

There was just one problem: they weren't guilty.

To say that Wallace, King and Woodfox, known members of the militant Black Panther Party, were unpopular with the penitentiary's staff was an understatement. Back then the trio insisted that the crime was being hung on them because of the color of their skin and their political beliefs. Their declaration of innocence wasn't enough to save them from being punished for the guard's murder. The trio was declared guilty. Wallace spent the next 41 years of his life in solitary confinement.

In 2013, a United States Federal Court Judge overturned Wallace's sentence, stating in no uncertain terms that Wallace's trial had been "unconstitutional" and ordered his immediate release. The Department of Corrections complied with the order.

A few days later, Wallace died of liver cancer. The only moments of freedom he had known in over four decades were also his last. King and Woodfox were a little more lucky--both managed to stay alive for more than a few days after leaving prison. Read the rest

Amnesty International warns that Trump's hatemongering sets "a dangerous precedent for other governments to follow."

If you've had the sneaking suspicion over the past year that the world is going to hell, you're not alone. Amnesty International's 2017-2018 State of the World's Human Rights Annual Report says that in many countries, the politics of hate and fear are quickly becoming the norm.

The report, which covers the activities of 159 countries paints a troubling picture of the conditions that many people are forced to endure on an alarmingly more regular basis. For those who keep track of human rights issues, this is old hat--the world can be a shitty place, full of shitty people doing shitty things to folks that don't deserve it. What's new this year, although it's likely news to no one, is that America is one of a small group of countries at the forefront of Amnesty International's concerns. In a press release for the report, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, states:

"The specters of hatred and fear now loom large in world affairs, and we have few governments standing up for human rights in these disturbing times. Instead, leaders such as al-Sisi, Duterte, Maduro, Putin, Trump and Xi are callously undermining the rights of millions."

The report goes on call out the Trump administration's attempted rollback of women's rights and to block the entry of visitors and immigrants from Muslim countries, as particularly troubling and that Trump's "...backward steps on human rights are setting a dangerous precedent for other governments to follow."

The whole text of the annual report is available for download, here. Read the rest

Amnesty: hackers spent months building personas used to phish Qatari labor activists

In a new report, Amnesty International summarizes the security research they did on the victims of a sophisticated phishing attack aimed at Qatari labor activists, dubbed "Operation Kingphish." Read the rest

Qatar's World Cup stadium is being built by modern slaves

Qatar, one of the worst places in the world to be a worker (even the flight attendants experience human rights abuses), was picked to host the 2022 football world cup by the famously corrupt FIFA organization, despite the physical danger to spectators (and athletes!) from the incredible temperatures. Read the rest