Speakers at this event on Thursday 9th December 2021 included Albert Fox Cahn, Founder and Executive Director of Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P); award winning human rights activist Mohammed al-Maskati, of Front Line Defenders; Muhammed Shehada, Chief of Programs and Communications at Euro-Med Monitor; and Nadim Nashif, Executive Director and Co-founder of 7amleh.
Also joined the webinar Marwa Fatafta of Access Now, who gave a general overview of the proliferation of surveillance tech in the Middle East and North Africa region.
She also discussed the recent developments vis-a-vis the recent US blacklisting of NSO Group and Candiru, Apple and WhatsApp lawsuits, and her work in the MENA surveillance coalition.
“Action is needed now before the surveillance state becomes embedded in our society,” Robert Oulds, Moderator of the symposium webinar, and Executive Director of ImpACT International, said.
“This is a battle that unites all peoples across all lands who face the very same threat to their personal information and security from any number of regimes. Even their own ‘democratic’ governments are not beyond snooping and spying on their citizens,” he added.
ImpACT International called on concerned citizens to rally against these dangerous intrusions that only benefit already overly powerful politicians.
The organization recommended the following for better protection of personal data:
- The public must be informed as to the threat these systems pose to freedom and democracy.
- Think tanks and other non-governmental organisations should work with ImpACT International and other groups to heighten spyware and surveillance as a political issue that must be addressed.
- Political candidates and parties should pledge to outlaw the spyware industry.
- The development, transmission, marketing, sale, and trade in these freedom killing viruses should be banned.
- Contravention of any of the above points must be backed up criminal sanctions against individuals involved and heavy fines shall be levelled against the entities associated with those actions.
- Due to the transnational nature of such crimes and their transmissibility; liability and jurisdiction can be imposed against government or private entities and individuals that engage in such illicit activities that operate anywhere in the world.
- Citizen enforcement:
- Any citizen of a state should have the power to bring any breaches of the anti-spyware legislation before a court and initiate a prosecution.
- International enforcement:
- The International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency responsible for electronic communication should enforce anti-spyware codes of practice and legislation on participating member states, businesses, and other organisations.
- Those states and non-governmental organisations that do not comply and still engage in that practice should be isolated from international communications networks.
- Liberate society and the market:
- Anti-trust lawsuits, and anti-monopoly investigations and legislation must be deployed against big tech social media companies to limit their power and ability to collect and collate our personal data.”