Beyond Data: Reclaiming Human Rights at the Dawn of the Metaverse


Book by Elizabeth M. Renieris: “Ever-pervasive technology poses a clear and present danger to human dignity and autonomy, as many have pointed out. And yet, for the past fifty years, we have been so busy protecting data that we have failed to protect people. In Beyond Data, Elizabeth Renieris argues that laws focused on data protection, data privacy, data security and data ownership have unintentionally failed to protect core human values, including privacy. And, as our collective obsession with data has grown, we have, to our peril, lost sight of what’s truly at stake in relation to technological development—our dignity and autonomy as people.

Far from being inevitable, our fixation on data has been codified through decades of flawed policy. Renieris provides a comprehensive history of how both laws and corporate policies enacted in the name of data privacy have been fundamentally incapable of protecting humans. Her research identifies the inherent deficiency of making data a rallying point in itself—data is not an objective truth, and what’s more, its “entirely contextual and dynamic” status makes it an unstable foundation for organizing. In proposing a human rights–based framework that would center human dignity and autonomy rather than technological abstractions, Renieris delivers a clear-eyed and radically imaginative vision of the future.

At once a thorough application of legal theory to technology and a rousing call to action, Beyond Data boldly reaffirms the value of human dignity and autonomy amid widespread disregard by private enterprise at the dawn of the metaverse….(More)”.

We Need to Take Back Our Privacy


Zeynep Tufekci in The New York Times: “…Congress, and states, should restrict or ban the collection of many types of data, especially those used solely for tracking, and limit how long data can be retained for necessary functions — like getting directions on a phone.

Selling, trading and merging personal data should be restricted or outlawed. Law enforcement could obtain it subject to specific judicial oversight.

Researchers have been inventing privacy-preserving methods for analyzing data sets when merging them is in the public interest but the underlying data is sensitive — as when health officials are tracking a disease outbreak and want to merge data from multiple hospitals. These techniques allow computation but make it hard, if not impossible, to identify individual records. Companies are unlikely to invest in such methods, or use end-to-end encryption as appropriate to protect user data, if they could continue doing whatever they want. Regulation could make these advancements good business opportunities, and spur innovation.

I don’t think people like things the way they are. When Apple changed a default option from “track me” to “do not track me” on its phones, few people chose to be tracked. And many who accept tracking probably don’t realize how much privacy they’re giving up, and what this kind of data can reveal. Many location collectors get their data from ordinary apps — could be weather, games, or anything else — that often bury that they will share the data with others in vague terms deep in their fine print.

Under these conditions, requiring people to click “I accept” to lengthy legalese for access to functions that have become integral to modern life is a masquerade, not informed consent.

Many politicians have been reluctant to act. The tech industry is generous, cozy with power, and politicians themselves use data analysis for their campaigns. This is all the more reason to press them to move forward…(More)”.

The Frontlines of Artificial Intelligence Ethics


Book edited by Andrew J. Hampton, and Jeanine A. DeFalco: “This foundational text examines the intersection of AI, psychology, and ethics, laying the groundwork for the importance of ethical considerations in the design and implementation of technologically supported education, decision support, and leadership training.

AI already affects our lives profoundly, in ways both mundane and sensational, obvious and opaque. Much academic and industrial effort has considered the implications of this AI revolution from technical and economic perspectives, but the more personal, humanistic impact of these changes has often been relegated to anecdotal evidence in service to a broader frame of reference. Offering a unique perspective on the emerging social relationships between people and AI agents and systems, Hampton and DeFalco present cutting-edge research from leading academics, professionals, and policy standards advocates on the psychological impact of the AI revolution. Structured into three parts, the book explores the history of data science, technology in education, and combatting machine learning bias, as well as future directions for the emerging field, bringing the research into the active consideration of those in positions of authority.

Exploring how AI can support expert, creative, and ethical decision making in both people and virtual human agents, this is essential reading for students, researchers, and professionals in AI, psychology, ethics, engineering education, and leadership, particularly military leadership…(More)”.

Behavioral Jurisprudence: Law Needs a Behavioral Revolution


Article by Benjamin van Rooij and Adam Fine: “Laws are supposed to protect us. At work, they should eliminate unsafe working conditions and harassment. On our streets, they should curb speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence. And throughout our countries, they should protect citizens against their own governments.

The law is the most important behavioral system we have. Yet it is designed and operated by behavioral novices. Lawyers draft legislation, interpret rules, and create policies, but legal training does not teach them how laws affect human and organizational behavior.

Law needs a behavioral revolution, like the one that rocked the field of economics. There is now a large body of empirical work that calls into question the traditional legal assumptions about how law shapes behavior. This empirical work also offers a path forward. It can help lawyers and others shaping the law understand the law’s behavioral impact and help align its intended influence on behavior to its actual effects.

For instance, the law has traditionally focused on punishment as a means to deal with harmful behavior. Yet there is no conclusive evidence that threats of incarceration or fines reduce misconduct. Most people do not understand or know the law, and thus never come to weigh the law’s incentives in deciding whether to comply with it.

The law also fails to account for the social and moral factors that affect how people interpret and follow it. For instance, social norms—what people see others do or think others hold they should do—can shape what we think the laws say. Research also shows that people are more likely to follow rules they deem legitimate, and that rules that are made and enforced in a procedurally just and fair manner enhance compliance.

And, traditionally, the law has focused on motivational aspects of wrongdoing. But behavioral responses to the law are highly situational. Here, work in criminology, particularly within environmental criminology, shows that criminal opportunities are a chief driver of criminal behavior. Relatedly, when people have their needs met, for instance when they have a livable wage or sufficient schooling, they are more likely to follow the law…(More)”.

Digital Constitutionalism in Europe: Reframing Rights and Powers in the Algorithmic Society


Book by Giovanni De Gregorio: “This book is about rights and powers in the digital age. It is an attempt to reframe the role of constitutional democracies in the algorithmic society. By focusing on the European constitutional framework as a lodestar, this book examines the rise and consolidation of digital constitutionalism as a reaction to digital capitalism. The primary goal is to examine how European digital constitutionalism can protect fundamental rights and democratic values against the charm of digital liberalism and the challenges raised by platform powers. Firstly, this book investigates the reasons leading to the development of digital constitutionalism in Europe. Secondly, it provides a normative framework analysing to what extent European constitutionalism provides an architecture to protect rights and limit the exercise of unaccountable powers in the algorithmic society….(More)”.

To make AI fair, here’s what we must learn to do


Article by Mona Sloane: “…From New York City to California and the European Union, many artificial intelligence (AI) regulations are in the works. The intent is to promote equity, accountability and transparency, and to avoid tragedies similar to the Dutch childcare-benefits scandal.

But these won’t be enough to make AI equitable. There must be practical know-how on how to build AI so that it does not exacerbate social inequality. In my view, that means setting out clear ways for social scientists, affected communities and developers to work together.

Right now, developers who design AI work in different realms from the social scientists who can anticipate what might go wrong. As a sociologist focusing on inequality and technology, I rarely get to have a productive conversation with a technologist, or with my fellow social scientists, that moves beyond flagging problems. When I look through conference proceedings, I see the same: very few projects integrate social needs with engineering innovation.

To spur fruitful collaborations, mandates and approaches need to be designed more effectively. Here are three principles that technologists, social scientists and affected communities can apply together to yield AI applications that are less likely to warp society.

Include lived experience. Vague calls for broader participation in AI systems miss the point. Nearly everyone interacting online — using Zoom or clicking reCAPTCHA boxes — is feeding into AI training data. The goal should be to get input from the most relevant participants.

Otherwise, we risk participation-washing: superficial engagement that perpetuates inequality and exclusion. One example is the EU AI Alliance: an online forum, open to anyone, designed to provide democratic feedback to the European Commission’s appointed expert group on AI. When I joined in 2018, it was an unmoderated echo chamber of mostly men exchanging opinions, not representative of the population of the EU, the AI industry or relevant experts…(More)”

Selected Readings on Digital Self-Determination for Migrants


By Uma Kalkar, Marine Ragnet, and Stefaan Verhulst

Digital self-determination (DSD) is a multidisciplinary concept that extends self-determination to the digital sphere. Self-determination places humans (and their ability to make ‘moral’ decisions) at the center of decision-making actions. While self-determination is considered as a jus cogens rule (i.e. a global norm), the concept of digital self-determination came only to light in the early 2010s as a result of the increasing digitization of most aspects of society. 

While digitalization has opened up new opportunities for self-expression and communication for individuals across the globe, its reach and benefits have not been evenly distributed. For instance, migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to the deepening inequalities and power structures brought on by increased digitization, and the subsequent datafication. Further, non-traditional data, such as social media and telecom data, have brought great potential to improve our understanding of the migration experience and patterns of mobility that can provide more targeted migration policies and services yet it also has brought new concerns related to the lack of agency to determine how the data is being used and who determines the migration narrative.

These selected readings look at DSD in light of the growing ubiquity of technology applications and specifically focus on their impacts on migrants. They were produced to inform the first studio on DSD and migration co-hosted by the Big Data for Migration Alliance and the International Digital Self Determination Network. The readings are listed in alphabetical order.

These readings serve as a primer to offer base perspectives on DSD and its manifestations, as well as provide a better understanding of how migration data is managed today to advance or hinder life for those on the move. Please alert us of any other publication we should include moving forward.

Berens, Jos, Nataniel Raymond, Gideon Shimshon, Stefaan Verhulst, and Lucy Bernholz. “The Humanitarian Data Ecosystem: the Case for Collective Responsibility.” Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, 2017.

  • The authors explore the challenges to, and potential solutions for, the responsible use of digital data in the context of international humanitarian action. Data governance is related to DSD because it oversees how the information extracted from an individual—understood by DSD as an extension of oneself in the digital sphere—is handled.
  • They argue that in the digital age, the basic service provision activities of NGOs and aid organizations have become data collection processes. However, the ecosystem of actors is “uncoordinated” creating inefficiencies and vulnerabilities in the humanitarian space.
  • The paper presents a new framework for responsible data use in the humanitarian domain. The authors advocate for data users to follow three steps: 
  1. “[L]ook beyond the role they take up in the ‘data-lifecycle’ and consider previous and following steps and roles;
  2. Develop sound data responsibility strategies not only to prevent harm to their own operations but also to other organizations in the ‘data-lifecycle;’ and, 
  3. Collaborate with and learn from other organizations, both in the humanitarian field and beyond, to establish broadly supported guidelines and standards for humanitarian data use.”

Currion, Paul. “The Refugee Identity.Caribou Digital (via Medium), March 13, 2018.

  • Developed as part of a DFID-funded initiative, this essay outlines the Data Requirements for Service Delivery within Refugee Camps project that investigated current data standards and design of refugee identity systems.
  • Currion finds that since “the digitisation of aid has already begun…aid agencies must therefore pay more attention to the way in which identity systems affect the lives and livelihoods of the forcibly displaced, both positively and negatively.” He argues that an interoperable digital identity for refugees is essential to access financial, social, and material resources while on the move but also to tap into IoT services.
  • However, many refugees are wary of digital tracking and data collection services that could further marginalize them as they search for safety. At present, there are no sector-level data standards around refugee identity data collection, combination, and centralization. How can regulators balance data protection with government and NGO requirements to serve refugees in the ways they want to uphold their DSD?
  • Currion argues that a Responsible Data approach, as opposed to a process defined by a Data Minimization principle, provides “useful guidelines” but notes that data responsibility “still needs to be translated into organizational policy, then into institutional processes, and finally into operational practice. He further adds that “the digitization of aid, if approached from a position that empowers the individual as much as the institution, offers a chance to give refugees back their voices.”

Decker, Rianne, Paul Koot, S. Ilker Birbil, Mark van Embden Andres. “Co-designing algorithms for governance: Ensuring responsible and accountable algorithmic management of refugee camp supplies” Big Data and Society, April 2022. 

  • While recent literature has looked at the negative impacts of big data and algorithms in public governance, claiming they may reinforce existing biases and defy scrutiny by public officials, this paper argues that designing algorithms with relevant government and society stakeholders might be a way to make them more accountable and transparent. 
  • It presents a case study of the development of an algorithmic tool to estimate the populations of refugee camps to manage the delivery of emergency supplies. The algorithms included in this tool were co-designed with relevant stakeholders. 
  • This may provide a way to uphold DSD by  contributing to the “accountability of the algorithm by making the estimations transparent and explicable to its users.”
  • The authors found that the co-design process enabled better accuracy and responsibility and fostered collaboration between partners, creating a suitable purpose for the tool and making the algorithm understandable to its users. This enabled algorithmic accountability. 
  • The authors note, however, that the beneficiaries of the tools were not included in the design process, limiting the legitimacy of the initiative. 

European Migration Network. “The Use of Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence in Migration Management.” EMN-OECD Inform Series, February 2022.

  • This paper explores the role of new digital technologies in the management of migration and asylum, focusing specifically on where digital technologies, such as online portals, blockchain, and AI-powered speech and facial recognition systems are being used across Europe to navigate the processes of obtaining visas, claiming asylum, gaining citizenship,  and deploying border control management. 
  • Further, it points to friction between GDPR and new technologies like blockchain—which by decision does not allow for the right to be forgotten—and potential workarounds, such as two-step pseudonymisation.
  • As well, it highlights steps taken to oversee and open up data protection processes for immigration. Austria, Belgium, and France have begun to conduct Data Protection Impact Assessments; France has a portal that allows one to request the right to be forgotten; Ireland informs online service users on how data can be shared or used with third-party agencies; and Spain outlines which personal data are used in immigration as per the Registry Public Treatment Activities.
  • Lastly, the paper points out next steps for policy development that upholds DSD, including universal access and digital literacy, trust in digital systems, willingness for government digital transformations, and bias and risk reduction.

Martin, Aaron, Gargi Sharma, Siddharth Peter de Souza, Linnet Taylor, Boudewijn van Eerd, Sean Martin McDonald, Massimo Marelli, Margie Cheesman, Stephan Scheel, and Huub Dijstelbloem. “Digitisation and Sovereignty in Humanitarian Space: Technologies, Territories and Tensions.” Geopolitics (2022): 1-36.

  • This paper explores how digitisation and datafication are reshaping sovereign authority, power, and control in humanitarian spaces.
  • Building on the notion that technology is political, Martin et al. discuss three cases where digital tools powered by partnerships between international organizations and NGOs and private firms such as Palantir and Facebook have raised concerns for data to be “repurposed” to undermine national sovereignty and distort humanitarian aims with for-profit motivations.
  • The authors draw attention to how cyber dependencies threaten international humanitarian organizations’ purported digital sovereignty. They touch on the tensions between national and digital sovereignty and self-governance.
  • The paper further argues that the rise of digital technologies in the governance of international mobility and migration policies “has all kinds of humanitarian and security consequences,” including (but not limited to) surveillance, privacy infringement, profiling, selection, inclusion/exclusion, and access barriers. Specifically, Scheel introduces the notion of function creep—the use of digital data beyond initially defined purposes—and emphasizes its common use in the context of migration as part “of the modus operandi of sovereign power.”

McAuliffe, Marie, Jenna Blower, and Ana Beduschi. “Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence in Migration and Mobility: Transnational Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Societies 11, no. 135 (2021): 1-13.

  • This paper critically examines the implications of intensifying digitalization and AI for migration and mobility systems in a post- COVID transnational context. 
  • The authors first situate digitalization and AI in migration by analyzing its uptake throughout the Migration Cycle, i.e. to verify identities and visas, “enable “smart” border processing,” and understand travelers’ adherence to legal frameworks. It then evaluates the current challenges and opportunities to migrants and migration systems brought about by deepening digitalization due to COVID-19. For example, contact tracing, infection screening, and quarantining procedures generate increased data about an individual and are meant, by design, to track and trace people, which raises concerns about migrants’ safety, privacy, and autonomy.
  • This essay argues that recent changes show the need for further computational advances that incorporate human rights throughout the design and development stages, “to mitigate potential risks to migrants’ human rights.” AI is severely flawed when it comes to decision-making around minority groups because of biased training data and could further marginalize vulnerable populations and intrusive data collection for public health could erode the power of one’s universal right to privacy. Leaving migrants at the mercy of black-box AI systems fails to uphold their right to DSD because it forces them to relinquish their agency and power to an opaque system.

Ponzanesi, Sandra. “Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: (Re)Mapping Connectivity and Belonging.” Television & New Media 20, no. 6 (2019): 547-557.

  • This article explores the role of new media technologies in rethinking the dynamics of migration and globalization by focusing on the role of migrant users as “connected” and active participants, as well as “screened” and subject to biometric datafication, visualization, and surveillance.
  • Elaborating on concepts such as “migration” and “mobility,” the article analyzes the paradoxes of intermittent connectivity and troubled belonging, which are seen as relational definitions that are always fluid, negotiable, and porous.
  • It states that a city’s digital infrastructures are “complex sociotechnical systems” that have a functional side related to access and connectivity and a performative side where people engage with technology. Digital access and action represent areas of individual and collective manifestations of DSD. For migrants, gaining digital access and skills and “enacting citizenship” are important for resettlement. Ponzanesi advocates for further research conducted both from the bottom-up that leans on migrant experiences with technology to resettle and remain in contact with their homeland and a top-down approach that looks at datafication, surveillance, digital/e-governance as a part of the larger technology application ecosystem to understand contemporary processes and problems of migration.

Remolina, Nydia, and Mark James Findlay. “The Paths to Digital Self-Determination — A Foundational Theoretical Framework.” SMU Centre for AI & Data Governance Research Paper No. 03 (2021): 1-34.

  • Remolina and Findlay stress that self-determination is the vehicle by which people “decide their own destiny in the international order.” Decision-making ability powers humans to be in control of their own lives and excited to pursue a set of actions. Collective action, or the ability to make decisions as a part of a group—be it based on ethnicity, nationality, shared viewpoints, etc.—further motivates oneself.
  • The authors discuss how the European Union and European Court of Human Rights’ “principle of subsidiarity” aligns with self-determination because it advocates for power to be placed at the lowest level possible to preserve bottom-up agency with a “reasonable level of efficiency.” In practice, the results of subsidiarity have been disappointing.
  • The paper provides examples of indigenous populations’ fight for self-determination, offline and online. Here, digital self-determination refers to the challenges indigenous peoples face in accessing growing government uses of technology for unlocking innovative solutions because of a lack of physical infrastructure due to structural and social inequities between settler and indigenous communities.
  • Understanding self-determination—and by extension, digital self-determination as a human right, the report investigates how autonomy, sovereignty, the legal definition of a ‘right,’ inclusion, agency, data governance, data ownership, data control, and data quality.
  • Lastly, the paper presents a foundational theoretical framework that goes beyond just protecting personal data and privacy. Understanding that DSD “cannot be detached from duties for responsible data use,” the authors present a collective and individual dimension to DSD. They extend the individual dimension of DSD to include both my data and data about me that can be used to influence a person’s actions through micro-targeting and nudge techniques. They update the collective dimension of DSD to include the views and influences of organizations, businesses, and communities online and call for a better way of visualizing the ‘social self’ and its control over data.

Ziebart, Astrid, and Jessica Bither. “AI, Digital Identities, Biometrics, Blockchain: A Primer on the Use of Technology in Migration Management.” Migration Strategy Group on International Cooperation and Development, June 2020.

  • Ziebart and Bither note the implications of increasingly sophisticated use of technology and data collection by governments with respect to their citizens. They note that migrants and refugees “often are exposed to particular vulnerabilities” during these processes and underscore the need to bring migrants into data gathering and use policy conversations.  
  • The authors discuss the promise of technology—i.e., to predict migration through AI-powered analyses, employ technologies to reduce friction in the asylum-seeking processes, and the power of digital identities for those on the move. However, they stress the need to combine these tools with informational self-determination that allows migrants to own and control what data they share and how and where the data are used.
  • The migration and refugee policy space faces issues of “tech evangelism,” where technologies are being employed just because they exist, rather than because they serve an actual policy need or provide an answer to a particular policy question. This supply-driven policy implementation signals the need for more migrant voices to inform policymakers on what tools are actually useful for the migratory experience. In order to advance the digital agency of migrants, the paper offers recommendations for some of the ethical challenges these technologies might pose and ultimately advocates for greater participation of migrants and refugees in devising technology-driven policy instruments for migration issues.

On-the-go interesting resources 

  • Empowering Digital Self-Determination, mediaX at Stanford University: This short video presents definitions of DSD, and digital personhood, identity, and privacy and an overview of their applications across ethics, law, and the private sector.
  • Digital Self-Determination — A Living Syllabus: This syllabus and assorted materials have been created and curated from the 2021 Research Sprint run by the Digital Asia Hub and Berkman Klein Center for Internet Society at Harvard University. It introduces learners to the fundamentals of DSD across a variety of industries to enrich understanding of its existing and potential applications.
  • Digital Self-Determination Wikipedia Page: This Wikipedia page was developed by the students who took part in the Berkman Klein Center research sprint on digital self-determination. It provides a comprehensive overview of DSD definitions and its key elements, which include human-centered design, robust privacy mandates and data governance, and control over data use to give data subjects the ability to choose how algorithms manipulate their data for autonomous decision-making.
  • Roger Dubach on Digital Self-Determination: This short video presents DSD in the public sector and the dangers of creating a ‘data-protected’ world, but rather on understanding how governments can efficiently use data and protect privacy. Note: this video is part of the Living Syllabus course materials (Digital Self-Determination/Module 1: Beginning Inquiries).

The challenges of protecting data and rights in the metaverse


Article by Urvashi Aneja: “Virtual reality systems work by capturing extensive biological data about a user’s body, including pupil dilation, eye movement, facial expressions, skin temperature, and emotional responses to stimuli. Spending just 20 minutes in a VR simulation leaves nearly 2 million unique recordings of body language.

Existing data protection frameworks are woefully inadequate for dealing with the privacy implications of these technologies. Data collection is involuntary and continuous, rendering the notion of consent almost impossible. Research also shows that five minutes of VR data, with all personally identifiable information stripped, could be correctly identified using a machine learning algorithm with 95% accuracy. This type of data isn’t covered by most biometrics laws.

But a lot more than individual privacy is at stake. Such data will enable what human rights lawyer Brittan Heller has called “biometric psychography” referring to the gathering and use of biological data to reveal intimate details about a user’s likes, dislikes, preferences, and interests. In VR experiences, it is not only a user’s outward behavior that is captured, but also their emotional reactions to specific situations, through features such as pupil dilation or change in facial expressions….(More)”

Artificial intelligence is creating a new colonial world order


Series by  Karen Hao: “…Over the last few years, an increasing number of scholars have argued that the impact of AI is repeating the patterns of colonial history. European colonialism, they say, was characterized by the violent capture of land, extraction of resources, and exploitation of people—for example, through slavery—for the economic enrichment of the conquering country. While it would diminish the depth of past traumas to say the AI industry is repeating this violence today, it is now using other, more insidious means to enrich the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the poor….

MIT Technology Review’s new AI Colonialism series, which will be publishing throughout this week, digs into these and other parallels between AI development and the colonial past by examining communities that have been profoundly changed by the technology. In part one, we head to South Africa, where AI surveillance tools, built on the extraction of people’s behaviors and faces, are re-entrenching racial hierarchies and fueling a digital apartheid.

In part two, we head to Venezuela, where AI data-labeling firms found cheap and desperate workers amid a devastating economic crisis, creating a new model of labor exploitation. The series also looks at ways to move away from these dynamics. In part three, we visit ride-hailing drivers in Indonesia who, by building power through community, are learning to resist algorithmic control and fragmentation. In part four, we end in Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, where an Indigenous couple are wresting back control of their community’s data to revitalize its language.

Together, the stories reveal how AI is impoverishing the communities and countries that don’t have a say in its development—the same communities and countries already impoverished by former colonial empires. They also suggest how AI could be so much more—a way for the historically dispossessed to reassert their culture, their voice, and their right to determine their own future.

That is ultimately the aim of this series: to broaden the view of AI’s impact on society so as to begin to figure out how things could be different. It’s not possible to talk about “AI for everyone” (Google’s rhetoric), “responsible AI” (Facebook’s rhetoric), or “broadly distribut[ing]” its benefits (OpenAI’s rhetoric) without honestly acknowledging and confronting the obstacles in the way….(More)”.

How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens 


Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker: “…Commercial spyware has grown into an industry estimated to be worth twelve billion dollars. It is largely unregulated and increasingly controversial. In recent years, investigations by the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International have revealed the presence of Pegasus on the phones of politicians, activists, and dissidents under repressive regimes. An analysis by Forensic Architecture, a research group at the University of London, has linked Pegasus to three hundred acts of physical violence. It has been used to target members of Rwanda’s opposition party and journalists exposing corruption in El Salvador. In Mexico, it appeared on the phones of several people close to the reporter Javier Valdez Cárdenas, who was murdered after investigating drug cartels. Around the time that Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia approved the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a longtime critic, Pegasus was allegedly used to monitor phones belonging to Khashoggi’s associates, possibly facilitating the killing, in 2018. (Bin Salman has denied involvement, and NSO said, in a statement, “Our technology was not associated in any way with the heinous murder.”) Further reporting through a collaboration of news outlets known as the Pegasus Project has reinforced the links between NSO Group and anti-democratic states. But there is evidence that Pegasus is being used in at least forty-five countries, and it and similar tools have been purchased by law-enforcement agencies in the United States and across Europe. Cristin Flynn Goodwin, a Microsoft executive who has led the company’s efforts to fight spyware, told me, “The big, dirty secret is that governments are buying this stuff—not just authoritarian governments but all types of governments.”…(More)”.