Tuesday, September 8, 2015

In Colombia, the worst fears of the surveillance state are on display

A handful of companies based in Italy, Israel, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the U.S. have sold surveillance technology to authorities in Colombia, according to research published this month by the UK-based Privacy International. The technology enables Colombian law enforcement and intelligence agencies to engage in surveillance activities similar to those conducted by the National Security Agency in the U.S.

The technology allows Colombian police to do things such as hack electronic devices unbeknownst to users, install offensive malware that allow for remote access and control, and harvest telephone data en masse. Like the U.S., Colombian law doesn't necessarily allow for such surveillance to take place. "This type of mass, automated surveillance is not explicitly authorized under Colombian law," the researchers note....

The government's disregard for the law doesn't end with respect to surveillance, the researchers note. "Accounts of the illegal interception of private communications pervade accounts of extrajudicial disappearances and killings," they state.