Amnesty Tech is working to answer one of the most critical questions facing the world today:

what do our BASIC HUMAN rights look like in the digital age?

WHO WE ARE

Amnesty Tech is a global collective of advocates, hackers, researchers and technologists. We aim to:

 

  • Bolster social movements in an age of surveillance
  • Challenge the systemic threat to our rights posed by the surveillance-based business model of the big tech companies
  • Ensure accountability in the design and use of new and frontier technologies
  • Encourage innovative uses of technology to help support our fundamental rights

OUR APPROACH

  1. Engaging in advocacy, campaigning and litigation to address the broader risks posed by emerging technology and the surveillance-based business model of the big technology companies.

  2. Helping to identify, pilot and scale new technologies and tools to support our campaigns and research..

OUR WORK

Disrupting Surveillance

Across the world, hard won rights are being weakened and denied every day. And increasingly, much of the repression faced by human rights defenders is digital. Since 2017, Amnesty Tech’s investigations have exposed vast and well-orchestrated digital attacks against activists and journalists in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Mexico and Pakistan.

Amnesty Tech aims to counter digital repression by:

  • Investigating, exposing and shutting down digital attacks against and civil society, from spyware to misinformation and online abuse
  • Providing direct support to groups most at risk
  • Undertaking strategic litigation to challenge the corporate actors who provide software and services to rights-violating governments
  • Harnessing the power of the Amnesty movement to campaign for accountability and stop the export of surveillance tech which risks violating human rights

The Security Lab, launched in 2019 and located in Berlin, leads technical investigations into cyber-attacks against civil society and provides critical support when individuals face such attacks.  The Lab also builds tools and services to help protect human rights defenders from cyber-attacks, and conducts technical training with the wider support community to help them identify and respond to digital threats.

Our global team of technologists – including in Tunis, Dakar and Nairobi – also provide digital security training and one-on-one support to activists, as well as security audits for partner NGOs.

We also focus on the secretive surveillance tech industry, including campaigning to stop the export of tech which risks being used to target human rights activists.

In 2019, we supported a legal action against Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, whose intrusive products have been used in attacks on activists in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and UAE, including an attack against one of our own staff members.

In October 2019, we uncovered targeted digital attacks against two prominent Moroccan human rights defenders using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. We are also carrying out further investigations of abuses linked to the company.

Secure Squad is trained network of volunteers who have signed up to provide peer support on tech and security to HRDs within their own communities.

Those at the forefront of combating climate change are heavily targeted by infiltration and surveillance. We have initiated a project to provide more digital security support to environmental defenders, who remain underserved in terms of technical and security support.

Big data and AI

Companies such as Facebook and Google have created an endless quest to drive profits through data capture, constructing a global surveillance infrastructure that goes beyond anything we have seen in history. It is clear these trends are already impacting the very core of our societies.

In the US, Cambridge Analytica misused intimate personal Facebook data to micro-target and influence swing voters in the last presidential election. Since taking power, Donald Trump has tried to harness the power of big data to bolster his own aggressive policies targeting Muslims.

In the US and Europe, the algorithms powered by Facebook and YouTube have deepened polarization and fanned hate – contributing to the rise of the far-right. In China, a sophisticated web of “dataveillance” technologies have tightened the government’s grip on social control and aided the persecution of minority groups like the Uighurs.

In 2018, Amnesty and Access Now launched the Toronto Declaration, a landmark statement on the human rights impact of machine learning systems on the right to equality and non-discrimination. It was widely endorsed by civil society, but the reception from tech companies has been decidedly cold.

In November 2019, Amnesty launched a ground-breaking report on how the surveillance-based business model of companies like Facebook and Google undermines fundamental rights, including the right to privacy and free expression. Amnesty is also looking at the human rights impact of emerging technologies such as facial recognition.

In addition, we also seek to understand and expose the impacts of dis/misinformation and online abuse, such as our Toxic Twitter campaign which used cutting edge AI/ML tools to measure the extent of violence and abuse against women on Twitter.

As part of these efforts, we identify opportunities for strategic litigation to secure accountability for human rights abuses arising from the dominance of the big tech firms and their misuse of big data and artificial intelligence.

Censorship

As many countries introduce sweeping new laws to increase censorship of the internet, Amnesty Tech is at the forefront of the fightback.

For instance, when Google planned to launch a censored search app in China – codenamed Project Dragonfly – we warned it could irreparably damage internet users’ trust in the tech company while setting a dangerous precedent for tech companies enabling rights abuses by governments.

We launched a global petition calling on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to drop the app, which would blacklist search terms like “human rights” and “Tiananmen Crackdown”.

In November 2018, Google staff published an open letter in support of Amnesty International’s campaign for Google to #Drop Dragonfly.

In July 2019, Google said it had “terminated” plans to launch Project Dragonfly. We are continuing to monitor developments and have urged Google to commit to never aiding China’s large-scale censorship and surveillance.

PRESS RELEASES, BLOGS AND MORE

May 4, 2020 • Press Release

Privacy Must Not Be ‘Another Casualty’ of the Virus in the UK

UK Government plans to introduce a COVID-19 tracing app with a potentially centralized contract tracing system are deeply concerning and may mean that people’s right to privacy could become “another casualty” of coronavirus, Amnesty International UK warned today.

April 2, 2020 • Press Release

Digital surveillance to fight COVID-19 can only be justified if it respects human rights

With governments across the world rapidly expanding the use of digital surveillance in an attempt to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International and other leading NGOs have set out strict conditions that must be met to safeguard human rights and prevent surveillance overreach. More than 100 civil society groups joined Amnesty in signing the statement, including …

March 30, 2020 • Press Release

Workshop for media will examine technology and surveillance in the age of COVID-19

As part of a series of workshops exploring human rights concerns related to the COVID-19 response, Amnesty International USA will be holding a workshop titled “Technology and Surveillance in the Age of COVID-19”. The workshop will cover the themes of how digital technologies track and monitor individuals and populations, concerns around digital surveillance powers, and …

March 20, 2020 • Press Release

15 Groups Call on Lawmakers to Protect Privacy and Personal Data in Covid-19 Relief Packages

Congress must take steps to protect our privacy and secure our personal data, including location and health data, in the forthcoming emergency relief packages, 15 groups said in a letter sent to members of Congress today. “Allowing access to personal data, particularly health data, without guardrails could threaten fundamental rights and liberties and open the door to …

January 16, 2020 • Press Release

Court in Israel Decides to Hear Case Against NSO Behind Closed Doors

Responding to a decision by Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday to close the doors of the hearing of a legal action seeking to revoke the export license of spyware firm NSO Group, Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said:

January 14, 2020 • Press Release

Stop NSO Group Exporting Spyware to Human Rights Abusers in Israel

Israel must revoke the export license of NSO Group whose spyware products have been used in malicious attacks on human rights activists around the world, Amnesty International said ahead of the latest court case to embroil the tech firm.

November 20, 2019 • Press Release

Facebook and Google’s Pervasive Surveillance Poses An Unprecedented Danger To Human Rights

Facebook and Google’s omnipresent surveillance of billions of people poses a systemic threat to human rights, Amnesty International warned in a new report as it called for a radical transformation of the tech giants’ core business model.

November 20, 2019 • Report

Facebook and Google’s Pervasive Surveillance Poses An Unprecedented Danger To Human Rights

Facebook and Google’s omnipresent surveillance of billions of people poses a systemic threat to human rights, Amnesty International warned in a new report as it called for a radical transformation of the tech giants’ core business model.

November 19, 2019 • Press Release

More Than 100 Protestors Believed to be Killed As Top Officials Give Green Light to Crush Protests in Iran

Verified video footage, eyewitness testimony from people on the ground and information gathered from human rights activists outside Iran reveal a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings by Iranian security forces, which have used excessive and lethal force to crush largely peaceful protests in more than 100 cities across Iran sparked by a hike in fuel prices on November 15, said Amnesty International today.

October 29, 2019 • Press Release

Scores of Activists Targeted with NSO Spyware on WhatsApp

Responding to a statement by WhatsApp on Tuesday that spyware produced by the Israeli firm NSO Group was used to target more than 100 human rights activists, Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said:

COVID-19 CRISIS: HELP NOW

DONATE