Moosa contacted the friend, changed his password and stopped using Facebook Messenger. Then he saw that someone pretending to be him was asking his female Facebook friends for sex.
It was the start of an eight-month online campaign against Moosa, who had fled Bahrain for London after being tortured, raped and jailed in his home country for his activist activities.
It appeared he still wasn’t safe.
There was only one place they could find help: global watchdog Privacy International, which is now bringing a case against Gamma International, the firm behind the spyware.
PI is the agency spying on the spies, trying to keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated methods governments are using to monitor citizens.
It was founded 25 years ago by Australian Simon Davies, who wanted to collaborate with campaigners across the world to combat “the forces of surveillance increasingly linking arms each day.”
At the time, the internet was in its infancy. Since then, PI has grown into a group of 15 international lawyers, activists and tech whiz-kids, who work closely with whistleblowers and industry insiders.
The organisation has exposed national security abuses, police corruption, corporate thuggery and government excesses in 50 countries. In February, it succcessfully argued at tribunal that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had breached human rights law by accessing email and phone records intercepted in bulk by the NSA.
“The commercial surveillance industry is a new industry,” PI’s legal director Carly Nyst told news.com.au. “Historically, the private sector played a limited role in providing the surveillance capabilities used by state law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This picture has shifted significantly in the last several decades, with the advent of technologies that put the collection and retention of vast amounts of data within the budgetary reach of a growing number of governments.
“Concurrently, a commercial industry has grown up to service governments’ desire for ever-increasing surveillance capabilities. It is difficult to quantify the industry’s worth, but 2011 it was estimated to be in the region of $5 billion USD and growing by 20 per cent annually.
“The industry has strengthened demand through aggressive marketing to law enforcement and security services across the globe.”
don’t use wireless networks, hide their laptops in safes and leave hotels to make phone calls.
PI has identified around 375 companies in the surveillance industry. They are headquartered across the world, range in size from 20 employees to 10,000 and operate across any number of jurisdictions.
The industry is mainly comprised of companies in Europe and North America, although recent years have seen in growth in the number operating from countries including Israel, India and the United Arab Emirates.
Most sell surveillance technologies to governments under the banner of enhancing security.
There are several companies in Australia, including Nautics Group, which offers bespoke surveillance solutions (GPS tracking, audio capture) drawing on its experience in satellite navigation, digital map development and engineering projects for space programs.
PI is relatively unique in its means and methods of working, although it partners with Citizen Lab in Canada, which tracks the spread of surveillance. PI is currently bringing lawsuits against state intelligence agencies for unlawful activities exposed by the Edward Snowden documents, as well as against companies like Gamma.
But activist organisations like these are small fish in a big and powerful pond of world leaders. Next time you dance like nobody’s watching, remember, they probably are.
news.com.au 3 May 2015
In Australia, the 'government' also spies on your data, being able to log into any site that you have logged into from your smartphone.
The Australian government breaches the privacy of many individuals on a daily basis with NO warrants or real legal reason to do so.