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Anti-Telephone Strategies Used to Track Journalists in Botswana

Illustration of a New Report article Shows mobile phones Used to Track Journalists in Botswana

Figure: David ramos (Getty Images)

The willingness of electronics companies to sell to any payment agent, regardless of the country’s civil rights record, has not caused controversy. These tools, researchers say, allow bad governments to develop, destructive forces, and can be used in surveys that follow promoters or journalists.

You seem to be a great example of this problem, new report published this week and the Journalism Protection Committee show how the US and Israeli forensics industries have recently been used by the Botswana government to investigate a number of journalists … well, the section is not well known.

Report in detail complex of Oratile Dikologang, journalist and co-founder of Daily People of Botswana, who was arrested last year and allegedly tortured after falsely accusing him of spreading “false news” of the country’s President by Covid-19. Police, who say Dikologang was responsible for making several Facebook posts, he charged her “Dissemination of information is intended to mislead people about the COVID-19 virus.” He then allegedly took her to a local station, stripped her of her clothes, and put a black bag on her head before questioning her.

When questioned by the CPJ, the reporter denied that he had written the notes he had asked and he said Officials tried to use the incident to get more information from him in what he reports.

Adding to the dystopian interest throughout the region is the way in which data mining tools were used by the police to better understand who the contacts were. Authorities reportedly used Israeli company Cellebrite’s Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) and US AccessData’s Forensic Toolkit, which enabled police to obtain thousands of data on the journalist’s phone. CPJ reports:

Dikologang told CPJ that he refused to disclose his whereabouts – but provided a password on his cell phone. Police then “released” and “carefully analyzed” thousands of journalistic messages, communications, photographs, audio and video recordings, as well as TV and business accounts, according to a document filed in court to support ongoing cases.

Jonathan Rozen, one of the researchers who investigated the case, said the availability of digital expertise in the investigation of journalists in government was a growing problem. In many cases, the CPJ has found these types of technologies being sold in countries where governments have “demonstrated their willingness to arrest journalists, seize their weapons and then seek opportunities.” [to the contents] on these devices, “said Rozen, by phone with Gizmodo.

“The idea that officials can seize and seize your phone, your research, your storage as part of your job – is really interesting [on journalism]. Privacy and freedom of the press, “he said.” Wherever we have noticed that experts are taking this expertise, journalists are intimidated. “

Companies need to re-evaluate their sales and better review the issue, Rozen said.

“We’ve been talking to these companies for a while now, like some researchers,” he said. “We always receive responses that address human rights. Their work clearly states that adherence to human rights is pursued … and we do not know exactly what is involved. What are these companies doing before they sell the technology to the security services or the government? ”

Recent research has also shown how some of these data tools can be easily manipulated, which could damage the evidence. The ongoing question of what is going on with the Cellebrites security-as useful was stated by Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike-Adders additional concerns in situations like this.

Rozen also said that the Botswana story is one of the fastest growing cases in the world when journalists are arrested for publishing false news. In Dikologang’s case, the charges against him included violations of the law, including the making of “Internet connections,” “spreading dangerous words” and the sudden violation of Covid-19 government regulations “by publishing with intent to deceive,” Rozen said. All over the world, governments have relied heavily on the same principles to follow journalists, he added.

We reached out to both Cellebrite and AccessData for feedback. We will fix this issue when he has returned to us.

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