Online surveillance is a growing danger for journalists, bloggers, citizen-journalists and human rights defenders. The Spyfiles that WikiLeaks released in 2012 showed the extent of the surveillance market, its worth (more than 5 billion dollars) and the sophistication of its products.
Traditional surveillance has not completely disappeared. Policemen continue to lurk near Internet cafés in Eritrea. Vietnamese dissidents are followed and sometimes attacked by plainclothes policemen. The Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia and his wife Zeng Jinyang have had policemen stationed at the foot of their apartment building for months. Intelligence agencies still find it useful to tap the phones of over-curious journalists. But online surveillance has expanded the range of possibilities for governments.
This year’s “Enemies of the Internet” report is focusing on surveillance – all the monitoring and spying that is carried out in order to control dissidents and prevent the dissemination of sensitive information, activities designed to shore up governments and head off potential destabilization.