The Citizen Lab is at the forefront of investigating and reporting on abuses of mercenary spyware. Our submission highlights the capabilities of spyware and the nature of the spyware industry; how surveillance technology is used to violate fundamental human rights, and more particularly how it is related to enforced disappearances; and we provide recommendations for states, spyware companies, other businesses, civil society, and the Working Group.
Jonathon Penney is Citizen Lab’s 2011 Google Policy Fellow. He is currently a pursuing a doctorate in information and communication sciences at Oxford University. Before Oxford, Jonathon spent time studying and researching at Columbia Law School, where he was a Fulbright Scholar, and at Victoria University, where he was a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in the law faculty. A graduate of Dalhousie University and native Nova Scotian, he has served as Associate Editor of the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, and worked as a lawyer and as a policy adviser at the federal level. At Oxford, he is pursuing an interdisciplinary project, studying the “chilling effect” that certain laws and regulatory schemes, like take-down notices, have on speech and expression online. His broader research interests include constitutional & public law, intellectual property, and technology law, both separately and where these areas intersect.
This submission outlines Canadian technology companies and the threat they pose to human rights abroad, as well as suggests mechanisms the Government of Canada’s RBC strategy can adopt to address the harmful impacts of Canadian-made technology.
This report describes our investigation into the global proliferation of Internet filtering systems manufactured by the Canadian company, Netsweeper Inc.
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.
This section examines the legal, regulatory, corporate social responsibility, and other public policy issues raised by our report’s findings. We focus on the responsibilities of Netsweeper, Inc. and the obligations of the Canadian government under international human rights law.
In “Chilling Effects: Online Surveillance and Wikipedia Use,” Citizen Lab Research Fellow Jon Penney analyzes the fall of traffic to Wikipedia articles about terror groups and their techniques after the Snowden revelations.
Canadians should demand more from government in reigning in electronic spying and cyber-policing. But we should also, as citizens, subscribers, and users, demand more from our internet and telecommunication service providers.
Research Fellow Jon Penney wrote a paper titled Communications Disruption & Censorship under International Law: History Lesson, which was presented at this year’s Second USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI).