Bellingcat contributor Benjamin Strick has released the latest in his series of online investigative journalism tutorials, this one featuring his four favorite satellite imagery sources. Strick, who is also the director of investigations for the London-based Centre for Information Resilience, goes into detail into why and how these satellite resources — which include Google Earth, Zoom Earth, Sentinel Hub, and NASA's File Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) — can be invaluable tools in reporting. And best of all, they're free to use.
According to the 2021 Global Freedom of Expression report, press freedom has come under repeated attack during the COVID-19 pandemic. Authored by the human rights group Article 19, the report details hundreds of arrests, physical assaults, and other oppressive tactics on an independent press in the previous 14 months since the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020. Per the report, there were 620 violations of press freedom since March 2020, one-third of which were physical or verbal attacks, and another one-third were arrests or detainments by authorities. And the first three months of the pandemic were especially dangerous, with harassment and physical assaults on journalist quadrupling across the world.
Source: Article 19
News about the Pegasus spyware revelations is still reverberating around the globe, shaking the political foundations of countries like France, Hungary, and India. In this roundup, The Guardian offers an update on the fallout from the surveillance tool's deployment. In France, the Pegasus story has notably chilled relations with Morocco, which is suspected of having targeted French President Emmanuel Macron's phone as well as those of others in his government. In Hungary, President Viktor Orban's government was accused of — and did not directly deny — using the spyware from Israeli-based NSO group to secretly track investigative journalists in that country. And in India, figures from the oppositional Congress Party lobbed charges of "treason" at ruling Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly using Pegasus to surveil them.
Source: The Guardian
The trouble began when staffers at Uglegorskiye Novosti, a weekly on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East, prepared a front-page story on the collapse of a coal dump at a local firm's open-pit mine. The accident dumped tons of rock and debris into the Zhyoltaya River, blocking it and causing an ecological disaster, according to journalists there. But after complaints from the coal company, the newsroom was raided by 10 unidentified men, the electricity cut off, and the editor fired. The journalists are continuing to report on what is happening -- through the paper's Telegram channel.
Canadian information research group Citizen Lab has identified another player in the global spyware market, Israeli-based surveillance software company Candiru. This firm sells its product exclusively to governments, marketing its "untraceable" technology as reportedly capable of secretly tracking Apple and Android phones, Mac and PC computers, as well as cloud storage accounts. After extracting a copy of the Candiru platform from an infected computer in Western Europe, Citizen Lab worked with Microsoft to identify at least 100 other surveillance targets — journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents — in nations spanning the globe, from Palestine to Singapore, Iran to the UK, Yemen to Spain. For more details on which governments have purchased Candiru and learn more about how it work, click the link.
Source: Citizen Lab
US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in a memo on Monday that the Justice Department would no longer allow federal prosecutors to secretly seize the records of journalists during any investigation into government leaks. This move marked a notable win for press freedom and reversed a previous US DOJ policy that had allowed authorities to surveil reporters and acquire their communications data — without notification — if prosecutors felt the circumstances surrounding a leak of classified information outweighed the First Amendment rights of the press. The decision also came just weeks after bombshell revelations that the Trump administration had secretly seized phone and email records of several US reporters in an attempt to discover which government officials were disclosing details about the FBI's Russia investigation into election meddling and other national security issues. Media rights groups hailed the announcement, with Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press executive director Bruce Bowen calling it a "historic new policy" that "will ensure that journalists can do their job of informing the public without fear of federal government intrusion."
Source: Courthouse News