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.
The Citizen Lab and the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) have collaborated to produce a report which provides timely legal analysis, political context, and historical background on the Communications Security Establishment Act and related provisions in Bill C-59 (An Act respecting national security matters), First Reading (December 18, 2017).
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.