Netizen Report: You Can’t Encrypt, But We Can Spy

Netizen Report: You Can’t Encrypt, But We Can Spy

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

The massive hack of Milan-based surveillance software firm Hacking Team has sent security researchers and tech journalists on what is starting to feel like a never-ending fact-finding mission through the over 400GB of leaked data. From Ecuador toEthiopia to Mexico to Morocco, the documents confirm what journalists, human rights advocates, and political opposition groups in these and many countries had suspected for a long time: their governments were spying on them using techniques that, among other things, don’t quite seem legal.

In a recent discussion among digital privacy advocates, Professor Kyung Sin Park of Korea University Law School raised the question of whether government agencies had pursued and obtained warrants before employing Hacking Team’s “Remote Control System” (RCS) software:

I am sure that some use of RCS was done according to warrants issued by domestic courts….However, RCS operates by sending ordinary-looking emails and luring the target to open and click on file attachment which, on activation…[takes] control of the target’s personal communication device, making available for the controller indiscriminate amounts of information going through the device. Because of these special features, some federal magistrates in US have denied warrants for these types of surveillance techniques, and others have granted them.

This conversation is ongoing, and while highly relevant in countries where rule of law is strong, it is less salient in other parts of the world.

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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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