Human Rights and the Will to be free
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Bahrain, MENA & Arab Spring
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Human rights organisations filed formal complaints with the OECD against surveillance companies - Reporters Without Borders

Human rights organisations file formal complaints against surveillance software firms Gamma International and Trovicor with British and German governments.

Reporters Without Borders Germany, Reporters Without Borders International, Privacy International, Bahrain Watch, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights filed formal complaint with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) against a surveillance software company on Friday 1st February. The OECD National Contact Points National Contact Points (NCPs) in the UK is being asked to investigate Gamma International with regards to the company’s potential complicity in serious human rights abuses in Bahrain. A corresponding complaint against Munich-based Trovicor will be filed in Germany on Wednesday 6th February....

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Bahrain: UK malware used against Bahraini activists

Bahrain: UK malware used against Bahraini activists | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

The UK firm Gamma Group has created malware that can turn a cell phone into a tracking device. A new report revealed that the Bahraini government used it to spy on dissidents, while the firm says the software was stolen.

Husain Abdulla, a naturalized US citizen and director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), received an email in May from a Bahraini opposition leader with an attachment entitled "Existence of a new dialogue." Luckily for him, it wouldn't open on his BlackBerry.

"I couldn't open the attachment, but took it to one of the people investigating malware," he told DW. "They said it if you open it, it's going to be able to spy on any kind of activity you do on your computer or laptop."

Abdulla says he is aware of at least seven people who received the same email - "but I know it's more than that." The "people" carrying out the investigation were researchers at the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs' Citizen Lab, who traced the email to an IP address controlled by the Bahraini government, who, they suspect, intercepted the email and added the attachment.

The Citizen Lab last week released a report on spyware being used against opposition and pro-democracy activists around the world, which linked the viruses to UK based company Gamma Group. ...

 

This software, named FinSpy, functions like a computer virus, and can be used to secretly monitor computers, grab images from computer screens, intercept and record Skype calls, turn on web cameras and microphones, and record keystrokes. It can do all this while avoiding any antivirus software the target computer may have.

There is also a mobile version, which effectively turns cell phones into tracking devices. It is capable of hacking into a variety of operating systems, including Microsoft Windows Mobile, Apple iPhone's iOS, as well as Android systems.

"When FinSpy Mobile is installed on a mobile phone it can be remotely controlled and monitored no matter where in the world the Target is located," promises a FinSpy brochure recently published by WikiLeaks. ...

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UK firm faces questions over how spyware ended up in Bahrain

UK firm faces questions over how spyware ended up in Bahrain | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it

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The allegations raise concerns about the export of British technology to oppressive regimes. Tomorrow the campaigners Privacy International willjoin forces with human rights groups, including the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and Bahrain Watch, to file a complaint with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development alleging that Gamma International UK is in breach of OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. A separate complaint is being filed against a German company.

The complaints state: "If both companies did in fact export surveillance software to the Bahraini government, and are continuing to maintain these technologies for use by the Bahraini authorities, the complainants believe this would make them culpable of aiding and abetting the Bahraini government in its perpetration of human rights abuses … In so doing, it is argued the companies are in breach of OECD guidelines concerning human rights."

The guidelines are designed to promote responsible business conduct. The OECD has the power to launch an investigation into the two companies' alleged complicity in human rights abuses and publish its findings. The complaint shines light on the shadowy world of surveillance technology. Unlike weapons and military hardware it is not generally subjected to export restrictions.

According to Privacy International, Gamma's FinFisher (or FinSpy) suite of software products "is a particularly dangerous and sophisticated piece of surveillance technology" that is difficult to detect. The software targets individuals' devices and then relays information back to the sender, including the contents of all emails, Skype conversations and address books.

FinSpy can also be used to activate a device's internal camera and microphone and capture images and audio recordings of the user.....

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FinSpy Software Is Tracking Political Dissidents

FinSpy Software Is Tracking Political Dissidents | Human Rights and the Will to be free | Scoop.it
Two researchers say an off-the-shelf computer program has been used to monitor and spy on dissidents in countries around the world.
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