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New Tactics of Abuse: Digital Surveillance and Human Rights

On May 1, 2017, during the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Annual Meeting, the Committee on Human Rights (CHR) held a breakfast briefing, led by CHR Chair Martin Chalfie, to highlight issues surrounding digital security and human rights.
Guest speaker John Scott-Railton of The Citizen Lab (Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto) spoke to NAS members about the use of digital surveillance and technologies to target human rights activists and other members of civil society worldwide. Utilizing peer-reviewed and mixed-methods research, The Citizen Lab tracks perpetrators – often governments – who take advantage of weak laws and new available technologies to abuse the Internet for the purpose of threatening peaceful dissidents. As an example of how The Citizen Lab engages with the victims of these operations, Mr. Scott-Railton described the high-profile case of Emirati engineer and activist Ahmed Mansoor, who, with the assistance of The Citizen Lab, was able to thwart a cyber-attack and prompt a widely used mobile manufacturer to fix previously unknown, but dangerous, security flaws in its products.

New Tactics of Abuse: Digital surveillance and human rights from The National Academies on Vimeo.