Weaponising Data, the New Oil
CITIZEN DATA IS POTENTIALLY WORTH A LOT TO POLITICAL PARTIES AND RULING GOVERNMENTS. WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE RIGHT ALGORITHMS, DATA CAN HELP GAME DEMOCRACIES
By Prasanto K. Roy
PEGASUS, THE ICONIC WHITE winged horse of Greek mythology, was almost unknown in India. That name has suddenly become famous, as a piece of crafty spyware that snooped on Indian citizens.
On November 1, the Indian Express reported that the Israeli spyware Pegasus was used to snoop on at least two dozen Indian journalists, activists and others, via their phones. WhatsApp and its parent Facebook were suing the spyware’s creator NSO Group Technologies of Israel in a federal court in California, for hacking 1,400 smartphones via WhatsApp servers. They had traced the source of an extraordinary cyberattack detected and blocked in May 2019, that targeted over 100 human-rights defenders, journalists and others across the world.
Wait, isn’t WhatsApp securely encrypted, end to end? Yes: others can’t snoop on a message en route to your phone. But on your handset, the message is decrypted for you to read. Spyware on your phone can intercept your display or keyboard, camera or mic, and listen t