More details have emerged on the censorship apparatus operated by Spain's Socialist Party (PSOE)-Podemos government. A new cyber-monitoring tool, known as ELISA, has been rolled out across the country, which will scour the internet for supposed instances
of disinformation and report them to Spain's central government for further action.
ELISA began by monitoring only a few dozen web pages. However, its surveillance operation has now expanded to around 350 sites. It has been described as a Digital
Observatory, designed to facilitate the monitoring of open sources, as well as the profiling of media and social networks.
To avoid any judicial oversight, ELISA will supposedly only monitor open source data, rather than private communications. It
will nonetheless mine vast quantities of information on online sources, social media usage, news platforms and other internet content.
ELISA's development and implementation is the latest in a series of internet-monitoring and censorship measures
recently made public in Spain. Revelations about the CCN's ELISA tool come hot on the heels of a new protocol, the Procedure for Intervention against Disinformation. It allows the state to monitor and suppress internet content, under the pretext of
combatting fake news and disinformation.
This gives the Spanish government full decision-making power to determine what is or is not fake news, and makes legal provision for constant state surveillance of social media platforms and the media more
broadly to detect disinformation and formulate a political response.
The EU's anti-terrorist coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, is urging the censorship of internet game chat lest it could be used to propagate extremist ideologies and even prepare attacks.
The official commented ahead of a proposed Digital Services
Act that aims to address US dominance of the internet and to propose censorship measures targeting speech that the EU does not like. De Kerchove commented:
I'm not saying that all the gaming sector is a problem. There
are two billion people playing online, and that's all very well ...BUT... you have extreme-right groups in Germany that have come up with games where the aim is to shoot Arabs, or (George) Soros, or Mrs Merkel for her migration policy, etc.
That can be an alternative way to spread ideology, especially of the extreme right but not only them, a way to launder money -- there are currencies created in games that can be exchanged for legal tender
He also suggested the Digital Services Act include a provision forcing providers of encrypted communication to give police and prosecutors unencrypted versions of the messages sent on their services when ordered to do so by a judge.
Town halls are harvesting millions of highly personal details about residents using Covid software, the Daily Mail has revealed.
A private firm Xantura has signed lucrative deals with local authorities to garner the data which can be used to identify
people in need of support or else predict who is likely to break lockdown.
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, a joint partner with Xantura in the scheme, said OneView aimed to build on Operation Shield, which identified
1.5million individuals at high risk of Covid.
The information is culled from council records and includes family debt levels, living arrangements, income, school absences and exclusions. It is fed into a profiling system called Covid OneView to
create a risk analysis for households and individuals who are believed to be vulnerable.
Town halls say the aim is to help identify those most at risk from coronavirus. But a council presented slides at a video conference last month showing the
information could be used to predict who might break isolation rules.
The Daily Mail investigation found that the information Covid OneView can gather included notes on: Unfaithful and unsafe sex, emotional health and wellbeing, sleep issues and
dangerous pets Anger management issues and socially unacceptable behaviour Financial details, including debt, low income and tax arrears School attendance, low school commitment and free school meals
Jake Hurfurt of Big Brother Watch, a privacy
campaigning group, said:
This underlines the shift toward mass surveillance and data harvesting that has been triggered by the pandemic. It's scandalous that councils are using huge amounts of personal information and
experimental algorithms to assign people 'risk scores and predictions behind closed doors. People have a right to know how their data is used and how decisions are made about their lives.'