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.
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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.
As part of our investigation into the incident, Citizen Lab has identified over 100 cases of abusive targeting of human rights defenders and journalists in at least 20 countries across the globe, ranging from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America that took place after Novalpina Capital acquired NSO Group and began an ongoing public relations campaign to promote the narrative that the new ownership would curb abuses.
Using the AMI approach, partners have launched projects around the world, including in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea. These projects focused on making data access requests to telecommunications companies in each country, led by a local researcher and a team of volunteers. Every country has specific laws, regulations, and corporate mechanisms that present unique challenges and opportunities in accessing data, but the results of each provide insights into the larger ecosystem of data access.