Updates from the Technology and Repression Front

In the realm of technology and repression, last week was filled with both dark and light.

On the lighter side, a Chinese dissident imprisoned using information from Yahoo! was finally released after 10 years. Yahoo! took a great deal of heat for turning over information originally, and settled a civil suit over the affair.

On the dark side, the New York Times reported that two researchers have identified an off-the-shelf surveillance program that can extensively monitor computer activity, including taking screen shots and recording skype conversations, which has been used against activists in multiple countries. It appears that governments that don’t have the resources to design surveillance systems themselves can just use off-the-shelf software instead. Although the maker says that the software is to be used exclusively in criminal investigations, evidence suggests that it sells to governments who intend to use it against protesters.

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