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Surveillance Technologies: RSF Calls on European States Not to Weaken the Protection of Journalists

As EU negotiations on draft regulation for the export and transfer of dual-use goods enter their final phase, RSF calls on member states to tighten export restrictions on surveillance technologies that can be used to spy on journalists and their sources.

A new round of European negotiations on the proposed regulation of exports of dual-use goods is due to open on Thursday 13 February in Strasbourg. The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament must find a common position on a text which aims to tighten the restrictions on the export of this type of goods,including surveillance technologies. Sold by private companies to authoritarian regimes, these technologies can be used in a malicious way to spy on journalists in particular.

More recently, NSO or Hacking Team, another Italian company specializing in surveillance, have again been suspected by UN Investigators of being involved in the hacking of the telephone of Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, with the intention presumed to influence daily newspaper coverage of Saudi Arabia

Alongside a coalition of NGOs, RSF had denounced at the end of 2018 one of the latest versions of the text and the double discourse of certain European states, which displayed their desire to defend human rights, while negotiating behind the scenes for the weakening of a text supposed to take them better into account.

Weakening the text proposed by the European Parliament, refusing to include all existing and future cybersurveillance technologies or even lightening the transparency obligations of States poses a real threat to journalists and beyond to the right to the media. information, says Iris de Villars, Technology Manager at RSF. These technologies expose journalists to surveillance, jeopardize their ability to investigate and protect their sources, while they are more and more accessible, and their use is increasing worldwide. “

The adoption of protective regulations is all the more necessary at a time when governments, for example, are becoming more and more directly involved in the organization of international events involving private companies in the security and surveillance and other states. Thus, on the initiative of the British Home Office, the Security and Policing trade fair, to be held in London in March 2020, plans to invite the Israeli company NSO , which specializes in the design of surveillance and monitoring software. interception of online communications. It is software from this company which, according to a report by Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur to the United Nations, used to hack communications from three close collaborators of Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Saudi journalist .

In 2019, NSO software was still used to intercept communications from Indian journalists using the WhatsApp service. Two years earlier, the Citizen Lab research center had already pointed to NSO software, which had been used to spy on communications from Mexican journalists investigating drug cartels and their entourage.

More recently, NSO or Hacking Team, another Italian company specializing in surveillance, have again been suspected by UN investigators of being involved in the hacking of the telephone of Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, with the intention presumed to influence daily newspaper coverage of Saudi Arabia.

It was the revelations about the sale by the French company Amesys of surveillance technologies to the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, which were used to spy on their dissidents, which led the European Commission to update the regulations of the European Union on exports and transfers of dual-use goods. Negotiations between Europeans on this regulatory project have been going on since 2016.

Copyright ©2016, Reporters Without Borders. Used with the permission of Reporters Without Borders, CS 90247 75083 Paris Cedex 02 https://rsf.org

Iran: Hiding the Spread of the Coronavirus and Repressing Independent Information

Immediately, Iraj Harirchi , director general of the ministry of health, denied the declaration of deputy Frahani and denounced a “propaganda war”, repeating the remarks made two days earlier by the supreme leader of the revolution Ali Khamenei. However, the next day, the member and the director general both learned that they were infected with the virus
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South Africa Olympic Gymnast

South African Caitlin Rooskrantz made history last year by becoming the first gymnast in her country to win a gold medal at an international meet, earning her a spot on the nation’s Olympic team. South Africa has a poor record at the Olympics, and in gymnastics in particular
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Afghanistan: U.S.-Taliban Deal

After 19 years of a grueling conflict that has claimed the lives of more than one-hundred thousand people, the war in Afghanistan may finally be coming to an end. So far, all sides seem to be respecting an agreement to reduce violence, a partial truce that came into effect last Saturday
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Bangladesh Court Bans 2 Books, Orders Them Removed from Literary Festival

The court’s ruling to ban the books, “Grandma’s Dictum” and “Dia Arefin,” – both works of non-fiction – and to order them removed them from stalls at the Ekushey Book Fair occurred on the fifth anniversary of the murder of U.S.-Bangladeshi secular blogger and writer Avijit Roy. He was killed in a machete-attack by Muslim zealots as he was leaving the literary festival
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Kenya Allows UN Envoy for Extrajudicial Killings for the First Time

Kenya has for the first time allowed the informal visit of a UN envoy on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Agnès Callamard, a French human rights expert, met with relatives of police killings in Nairobi’s slums, where hundreds of cases have left relatives and friends of victims feeling powerless
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