Surveillance

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU to restrict spyware exports
EU to restrict spyware exports
Credit: unsplash.com / Rob Sarmiento

The European Union wants to introduce restrictions on the sale abroad of technologies used for espionage and surveillance. This is reported by "Politico" with reference to informed persons. In the future, facial recognition systems and hacking programs will require a license to be sold outside of the Union. Governments would also have to publish details of the exact nature of the licenses granted to individual companies.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • TV & Movies
Facebook counters Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma" that criticized practices of the social network
Facebook counters Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma" that criticized practices of the social network
Credit: The Social Dilemma (Instagram)

In a post, Facebook has taken a stance towards the accusations from the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma".

Facebook stated that "the film’s creators do not include insights from those currently working at the companies or any experts that take a different view to the narrative put forward by the film" and added that "it gives a distorted view of how social media platforms work".

Regional News • Americas • United States
Court rules NSA phone snooping illegal — after 7-year delay
Court rules NSA phone snooping illegal — after 7-year delay
Credit: unsplash.com / Lianhao Qu

The National Security Agency program that swept up details on billions of Americans' phone calls was illegal and possibly unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Regional News • Asia • China
Report: China pays money for reports on underground churches
Excerpt "Notice on Rewarding Those Who Report Clues on Xie Jiao Illegal and Criminal Activities"
Excerpt "Notice on Rewarding Those Who Report Clues on Xie Jiao Illegal and Criminal Activities" Credit: Bitter Winter

According to the magazine Bitter Winter the Chinese government offers monetary rewards for reports of underground churches. The program awards people with up to around $14,000 if they report religious activities of groups banned by the Chinese Communist Party in private homes to the authorities.

In addition to these measures the Chinese government has started putting banners with anti-religious slogans up such as: "Don’t believe in any religion other than the Communist Party. It’s enough to believe in the Party and the People’s Government of China"

The

Regional News • World
Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Credit: Jonathan McIntosh

The Independent reports that public records show exports of security technology from the United Kingdom to repressive regimes despite rules to prevent it. Security technology such as wiretaps, spyware and other telecommunications interception equipment shouldn't be exported to regimes that might use them for internal repression purposes.

Public records show that despite the rules exports worth £75 million have been approved to 17 countries including China, Saudia Arabia, the United Arba Emirates and Bahrain. All 17 states have been rated "not free" by the Non-Governmental Organisation Freedom House.

Regional News • Asia
Messenger app Telegram will temporarily suspend fulfilling data requests from Hong Kong courts
Messenger app Telegram will temporarily suspend fulfilling data requests from Hong Kong courts
Credit: unsplash.com / Christian Wiediger

According to Hong Kong Free Press the messenger app Telegram has decided to temporarily not fulfill data requests of its users made by Hong Kong courts. The head of marketing for telegram, Mike Ravdonikas, has stated that "Telegram does not intend to process any data requests related to its Hong Kong users until an international consensus is reached in relation to the ongoing political changes in the city". The decision follows the enactment of the new national security law in Hong Kong.

Regional News • Asia
President of the Philippines signs anti-terrorism bill
President Rodrigo Duterte addressing Filipino community in Brunei
President Rodrigo Duterte addressing Filipino community in Brunei Credit: KING RODRIGUEZ/Presidential Photo (Public Domain)

The president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has signed a new anti-terrorism law. The new law the Republic Act No. 11479 provides the government with more rights for surveillance and repeals the Human Security Act of 2007. Suspected terrorists can be detained and arrested without a warrant and without charges for up to 24 days.

Regional News • Americas • United States
United States Senate discusses bill to regulate encryption
United States Senate discusses bill to regulate encryption
Credit: Santeri Viinamäki (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The "Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act", introduced by senators Graham, Blackburn, and Cotton would force manufacturers of devices and systems with encryption to be able to decrypt data upon request of public authorities or court orders.

The law is tied to other regulations regarding surveillance and national security including Section 215 of the Patriot Act. For technology companies, the only reason to not unencrypt data would require proof that it is "technically impossible" and then they could be forced by the government to redesign their systems.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Facial-recognition technology banned by Boston City Council
Flat Recognition Facial Face Woman System
Flat Recognition Facial Face Woman System Credit: teguhjatipras

The City Council in Boston has, in a unanimous vote, banned the usage of facial-recognition technology by the police. Councilor Ricardo Arroyo has stated that "It puts Bostonians at risk for misidentification", which is the reason why the technology has not been in use previous to the ban. The second Councilor, Michelle Wu, who co-authored the order with Arroyo said that "Boston should not be using racially discriminatory technology" as a study by the MIT found that facial recognition technology has a racial bias against people with darker skin.

Regional News • Americas • South America
Uruguayan President and vice-president deny surveillance after viral audio where VP said: "everything is recorded"

Last week, a conversation between the Uruguayan vice president and the public relationships person Fernando Cristino was publicized.

In that record, the vice president said that "everything is known, everything is recorded".

He further mentions they have "a team" of lawyers dedicated to "process every kind of extorsions or requests they receive the whole time", so he (Fernando) should not mention "the Luis' dealer" because phones are wiretapped.

President Luis Lacalle Pou has now publically denied the accusations.

Technology • Internet & Web
IBM announces that it will stop working on facial recognition technology

The IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has announced in a letter to the US Congress that IBM will no longer offer software for general-purpose facial recognition and analysis. In addition to not selling the software, IBM will stop developing or researching such technology. In the letter, Krishna stated that "IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency"

Regional News • Americas • South America
Head of intelligence agency of Argentina denounces political espionage by previous government

Cristina Caamaño, the new head of the federal intelligence agency of Argentina (Agencia Federal de Inteligencia - AFI) filed a complaint showing evidence of illegal political espionage by the agency under the previous government of Mauricio Macri.

Intercepted emails from about 80 opposition politicians, journalists , businessmen and law enforcement were recovered from a deleted hard drive.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Highest German court rules that internet surveillance of foreigners in foreign countries is unconstitutional

The German Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the current regulations regarding the surveillance of foreigners outside of Germany are unconstitutional. The judges remarked that the "strategic international telecommunications surveillance" conflicts with the constitutional rights protecting the secrecy of telecommunications and the freedom of press.

Regional News • Europe • France
Drone surveillance banned by the French State Council

Since the 11th of May, end of the COVID-19 full-lockdown in France, the French government is using drones in Paris to ensure citizens are applying the post-lockdown rules properly.

Today, after a complain from different NGOs, the French State Council, highest administrative court in France, considered drone surveillance was a dangerous threat to privacy, and ordered the Government to stop their usage immediately.

Regional News • Middle East
Israel extends cell phone surveillance by three weeks

In order to keep tracking carriers of the coronavirus, the subcommittee for the intelligence service of the Knesset has approved an extension of the smartphone surveillance program for another three weeks. The government originally advocated for an extension until June 16, but the committee only permitted one until May 26. The chair of the subcommittee, Gabi Ashkenazi, said that he sees it "as the right balance between not using this tool for the entire period and ensuring there is a legislative process".