I am a Senior Research Fellow at Citizen Lab, a co-founder of Bahrain Watch, and a Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Berkeley, where I received my PhD in Computer Science under the advisorship of Vern Paxson. My work focuses on novel technological threats to Internet freedom, including new censorship and surveillance tools. My expertise is in Internet scanning and conducting digital investigations. Coverage of my work has been featured in Vanity Fair, the New York Times, the Washington Post, on CNN, and on Larry King.
This section details the research questions that informed our study. We also outline in detail the methods that we adopted to identify Netsweeper installations worldwide, and those that we employed to reduce the findings to countries of interest. We also present high-level technical findings and observations.
In this section, we spotlight several countries where we have evidence of public ISPs blocking websites using Netsweeper’s products. Each country has significant human rights, public policy, insecurity, or corruption challenges, and/or a history of using Internet censorship to prevent access to content that is protected under international human rights frameworks.
Ethiopian’s penchant for commercial spyware is notorious, as is its pattern of digital espionage against journalists, activists, and other entities—many of which are based overseas—that seek to promote government accountability and are therefore viewed as political threats. Yet the Ethiopian government and others like it have faced little pressure to cease this particular strain of digital targeting.
This report describes how Ethiopian dissidents in the US, UK, and other countries were targeted with emails containing sophisticated commercial spyware posing as Adobe Flash updates and PDF plugins. Targets include a US-based Ethiopian diaspora media outlet, a PhD student, a lawyer, and even a Citizen Lab researcher.