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Surveillance, Security and Human Rights

    August 01, 2017

    By Joshua Franco, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. Follow Joshua on Twitter @joshyrama.

    You have probably heard of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), right? They’re those things you use to stream movies online in other countries that are annoyingly blocked in yours. If VPNs were banned, how would you watch the latest robot apocalypse blockbuster online without having to wait a whole year?

    Now imagine that the online content banned in your country isn’t movies, but rather major social media platforms, or the main sources of information about your religion, or your sexual orientation. Imagine you use a VPN to access this information, and now that tool is being taken away.

    This is what’s about to happen in Russia. It’s already happening in China.

    March 30, 2017

    By Amnesty tech expert Joe Westby. Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeWestby

    Anyone who hoped that the debate about encryption had already been put to bed, sadly, was wrong. Today, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd will meet with technology companies including Facebook and Google to discuss encrypted messaging services, with a view to “persuading” the companies to gain access to encrypted communications.

    Earlier this week, in the wake of the Westminster terrorist attack, Rudd became the latest state official to blame encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp for ostensibly facilitating terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, yesterday the EU promised to put forward tough new rules on encrypted messaging in June.  We. have. been. here. before.

    November 17, 2016

    By Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International

    Facebook, Microsoft, and LinkedIn are among the tech firms expected to be on a charm offensive with Chinese officials at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, which started November 16.

    The new law codifies existing abusive practices and seeks to turn tech companies operating in China into de-facto state surveillance agents.

    China has made clear to Western companies what tune they must dance to if they want to gain or keep access to the riches of the Chinese market, currently dominated by national players like Tencent and Sina.

    A new Cyber Security Law passed in China last week goes further than ever before in tightening the government’s already repressive grip on the internet, embodied by its “Great Firewall”. It is a vast human and technological system of Internet censorship without parallel in the world. The new law codifies existing abusive practices and seeks to turn tech companies operating in China into de-facto state surveillance agents.

    September 19, 2016

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty

    On Oct. 21, 2008, when I sat with Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin after the release of the report from the inquiry into their cases that had been conducted for two years by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci, I was sure that they would soon see justice for what they had been through. 

    But the staggering and disgraceful truth is that nearly eight years later, these three men – all survivors of torture that Canadian officials made possible – seem further away from justice than ever. They have, in fact, perversely only been put through deepening injustice, this time through obstructive Canadian government tactics in our own legal system.

    March 10, 2016

    To mark the World Day Against Cyber Censorship, Edward Snowden talks to Amnesty about how governments are watching everything we do online, and why we must bring mass surveillance back under control. Follow Ed on Twitter @Snowden

    Today, the government is granting itself the power to police every citizen’s private life. Every man, woman, child, boy, girl. It doesn’t matter who you are, how innocent or not innocent you are, they are watching everything you’re doing. They’re intercepting it, analyzing it and storing it for increasing periods of time.

    The fact that we’ve got agencies like the GCHQ looking through webcams into people’s bedrooms, into the four walls of their homes, is terrifying. The NSA is collecting billions of phone location records a day, so they know where you got on the bus, where you went to work, where you slept and what other cell phones slept with you. We have to ask: “Do we want to live in a society where we live totally naked in front of government, and they are totally opaque to us?”

    March 09, 2016

    Digital rights activist Nighat Dad blogs on how women in Pakistan are being attacked online, and what they’re doing to stop it. 

    There’s a stereotype in some parts of rural Pakistan that the internet isn’t for women. It’s where people watch bad stuff or make illegitimate relationships. In a conservative Muslim society, women are not supposed to be online. Many women choose to use the internet in secret, so their family members – especially men – don’t know about it. 

    And that’s one of the reasons why women in some areas don’t feel safe online. They feel threatened in the same way they do offline. I’ve seen blackmail, photoshopped pictures, hacking of personal accounts and rape threats. Women activists and feminists are trolled and targeted as “unethical western agents”. Nearly half of reported cyber crimes are connected to the harassment of women on social media.

    Shame and blackmail