We Chat, They Watch
How International Users Unwittingly Build up WeChat’s Chinese Censorship Apparatus

WeChat communications conducted entirely among non-China-registered accounts are subject to pervasive content surveillance that was previously thought to be exclusively reserved for China-registered accounts.

Featured Publications

Stopping the Press: New York Times Journalist Targeted by Saudi-linked Pegasus Spyware Operator

New York Times journalist Ben Hubbard was targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware via a June 2018 SMS message promising details about “Ben Hubbard and the story of the Saudi Royal Family.” The SMS contained a hyperlink to a website used by a Pegasus operator that we call KINGDOM. We have linked KINGDOM to Saudi Arabia. In 2018, KINGDOM also targeted Saudi dissidents including Omar Abdulaziz, Ghanem al-Masarir, and Yahya Assiri, as well as a staff member at Amnesty International.

Lifting the lid off the Internet.

The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto, focusing on research and development at the intersection of information and communication technologies, human rights, and global security. Learn more.

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Features & News

WeChat Surveillance Explained

On May 7 2020, the Citizen Lab published a report that documents how WeChat (the most popular social app in China) conducts surveillance of images and files shared on the platform and uses the monitored content to train censorship algorithms. This document provides a summary of the research findings and questions and answers from the research team.

Ronald Deibert Delivers Testimony to the House of Commons on Parliamentary Duties and the COVID-19 Pandemic

In what follows, I first provide a summary of the Citizen Lab’s recent investigation into the security of Zoom’s video conferencing application, and the company’s responses. I then discuss a broader range of digital security risks that are relevant to the work-from-home routines that MPs and their staff are following. Finally, I conclude with six recommendations.

FAQ on Zoom Security Issues

Since publishing report on Zoom security issues, there have been a wide range of responses to our research from the media, public, and Zoom itself. This document provides answers to frequently asked questions and addresses some inaccurate framings of our research.

Featured Video

CBC: WhatsApp Attributes Hack of 1,400 Users to NSO Group Technology

Citizen Lab senior researcher John Scott-Railton discusses why WhatsApp is suing NSO Group after discovering their spyware was used to target 1,400 users—100 of whom were members of civil society—and why this is a significant bellwether.

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