Just last month WhatsApp sued an Israeli surveillance company, the NSO Group , in a US court. The case alleges that the messaging platform was compromised by NSO technology, specifically to insert its signature product -- spyware known as Pegasus -- on
to at least 1,400 devices, which enabled government surveillance (an allegation that NSO Group rejects ).With Pegasus in their hands, governments have access to the seemingly endless amount of personal data in our pockets. The University of Toronto's
CitzenLab has found the Pegasus spyware used in 45 countries.
The global surveillance industry -- in which the NSO Group is just one of many dozens, if not hundreds, of companies -- appears to be out of control, unaccountable and
unconstrained in providing governments with relatively low-cost access to the sorts of spying tools that only the most advanced state intelligence services previously were able to use.
The industry and its defenders will say this
is a price to pay for confronting terrorism. We must sacrifice some liberty to protect our people from another 9/11, they argue. As one well-placed person claimed to me, such surveillance is mandatory; and, what's more, it is complicated, to protect
privacy and human rights.
All I can say is, give me a break. The companies hardly seem to be trying -- and, more importantly, neither are the governments that could do something about it. In fact, governments have been happy to
have these companies help them carry out this dirty work. This isn't a question of governments using tools for lawful purposes and incidentally or inadvertently sweeping up some illegitimate targets: this is using spyware technology to target vulnerable
yet vital people whom healthy democracies need to protect.
Russia's state internet censor has announced that China and Russia will sign an agreement to cooperate in further censoring internet access for their citizens.
Roskomnadzor said it would formally sign the international treaty with their Chinese
counterpart, the Cyberspace Administration of China, on October 20. That date is the first day of China's three-day World Internet Conference, to be held this year in the city of Wuzhen, in eastern Zhejiang province.
This co-operation seems to be
based on the two countries promoting an alternative internet governance regime that is not controlled by the US. An alternative governance would allow national censorship processes a route to getting deeper into the overall control management of the
internet. Eg to disallow censorship busting technology such as encrypted DNS.