Amnesty International releases anti-surveillance software for activists and journalists

21 Nov 2014

Amnesty International has released a new tool that enables journalists and human rights activists to scan their computers for known surveillance spyware.

Detekt’ has been developed by the human rights organisation in collaboration with tech companies Digitale Gesellschaft, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Privacy International.

The tool targets surveillance software that Amnesty International says is widely available online. In addition, Detekt can also sniff out more sophisticated systems used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies in countries with patchy human rights records.

“Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists and journalists’ private emails and remotely turn on their computer’s camera or microphone to secretly record their activities,” Marek Marczynski, head of military, security and police at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed.

“Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action. It represents a strike back against governments who are using information obtained through surveillance to arbitrarily detain, illegally arrest and even torture human rights defenders and journalists.”

The United Nations (UN) recently hit out at the mass surveillance techniques employed by the US and UK. 

In its report, the UN condemned the mass electronic surveillance of individuals by agencies such as the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) as a clear violation of privacy rights guaranteed by various treaties.

Internet surveillance image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic