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Privacy Communications Politics

Amnesty International Releases Tool To Combat Government Spyware 95

New submitter Gordon_Shure_DOT_com writes Human rights charity Amnesty International has released Detekt, a tool that finds and removes known government spyware programs. Describing the free software as the first of its kind, Amnesty commissioned the tool from prominent German computer security researcher and open source advocate Claudio Guarnieri, aka 'nex'. While acknowledging that the only sure way to prevent government surveillance of huge dragnets of individuals is legislation, Marek Marczynski of Amnesty nevertheless called the tool (downloadable here) a useful countermeasure versus spooks. According to the app's instructions, it operates similarly to popular malware or virus removal suites, though systems must be disconnected from the Internet prior to it scanning.
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Amnesty International Releases Tool To Combat Government Spyware

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "the only sure way to prevent governments surveillance of huge dragnets of individuals is legislation"

    Ha, you seriously think that's going to stop them?

  • by Kergan ( 780543 ) on Thursday November 20, 2014 @05:41PM (#48429673)

    Wouldn't the target government's obvious reaction be to block Amnesty International's site? Or worse, to masquerade as their site in order to distribute spyware?

    • I would think the NSA's response would be to MITM the internet connection and have it download NSA spyware when you think you are loading the spyware detector. Blocking the download just draws attention to them, it won't actually block those who want the software from getting it elsewhere.
    • Yeah, or this entire announcement is just cover for a program like the fake vaccines in Abottabad.

      Also, this: "the only sure way to prevent governments surveillance of huge dragnets of individuals is legislation".

      Can anyone explain to me how legislation would prevent government surveillance? I don't get it. If the Constitution isn't enough, why would a law be? Maybe because laws are how dollars get spent?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shame it doesn't work on Windows 8.1....

    • Shame it doesn't work on Windows 8.1....

      And the build dependencies gave me a lot of trouble when I tried to install it; the recommended packages don't work with one another, the extra python tools didn't even recognise that python was installed.

  • by mmell ( 832646 ) <> on Thursday November 20, 2014 @05:42PM (#48429681)
    If you're interesting enough that the NSA is watching what you do on your computer, the NSA is already watching what you do on your computer. Now that you have detected this, other (possibly less subtle) methods will be used to ensure that you are appropriately monitored . . . but kudos to you for catching the NSA! X^D

    Oh, and First Post!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The NSA is watching whether you're interesting or not.

      Apparently you didn't get the memo...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The NSA is watching whether you're interesting or not.

        No, they are just putting you in a ringbuffer, like every time I visit slashdot I go into their logs. They are just recording you, like those dashboard cams. Those only become interesting if something interesting happens, like a car crash. Otherwise, no one looks at these dashcam recordings and they just get overwritten every few hours.

        In case of NSA, this is a huge waste of resources. Recording everyone requires hundreds of billions of dollars in resources and it's only useful how much? To catch some small

        • The problem is, since they're using statistical methods, you can become "interesting" without actually being interesting. Which is precisely why people need to be involved at all levels, not merely from some dark lair at the top.

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      Fair enough. But if you think you are interesting enough for the NSA to be watching you (so much so that you download and use this tool) you may have just done enough to make you interesting enough for NSA to watch you.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      This is still useful as a defence against the FBI and other corrupt law enforcement agencies who might attack you. They don't have the resources that the NSA does, and have to be careful about what they reveal in court as evidence against you.

      Even the NSA is powerful, but not magical. They watch everyone, but if you take some steps to block them you can opt out of much of the mass surveillance. If they target you more specifically, you can still block most if not all their spying until it gets to the point

  • You seem to have the government spyware on your computer. Please allowing me to do the needful and install software to clean this spyware away...
    • Only 9 comments in, and the ever present, always anticipated, anonymous coward, Amnesty International bashing shows up.
      • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

        I think that comment is bashing scam artists, not the particular organization. Unfortunately, a lot of people would be clueless enough to fall for that type of phone call.

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      Hi, is that Dave in Bangalore? That software you sold me isn't working as expected, in fact the mouse cursor seems to have taken on a life of its own and gone hunting for bear porn.

  • Seems to be a fast dev cycle.

    v1.1 released 12 hours after v1 []

    • The NSA probably infected them with a new threat during that time period, and they had to update the target definitions to protect against it.

  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Thursday November 20, 2014 @06:16PM (#48429953)

    ... the only sure way to prevent governments surveillance of huge dragnets of individuals is legislation...

    What, they really believe that will work???

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      It can certainly make life difficult for them. The recent revelations that GCHQ spied on the privileged conversations between suspects and their lawyers only came out because they were dragged in to court. It's not perfect but it's a useful weapon.

  • Amnesty don't care about the fact that children are being trafficked by the British State under colour of Law.
    Amnesty don't care about the fact that the BBC not only covered up the fact that one of their most highly-paid employees was a paedophile, they ran the coverup for over fifty YEARS, they also ENABLED him by procuring children.
    Amnesty don't care about the fact that prominent members of Parliament, including inner Cabinet members, have been publicly implicated in child sexual abuse rings, child disapp

  • Shouldn't this article be tagged "MS-Windows"? The download is an .exe file (which is exactly what I expected)

    • by mmell ( 832646 )
      Offtopic!?!. Bull - that was damned funny - and dead on-topic, in view of what we're talking about here.
    • A/C? Are you kidding? It's 2 degrees and snowing here, they've got the heat shut down this afternoon while they're flushing the radiators, and I've got my space heater going. Why do they not do this in, say, August?

  • This software does not support Windows 8 or 8.1 x64.

    This makes it kind of useless for a whole swath of people like journalists, human rights defenders, etc who have purchased a new Windows machine in the last year or so can't use it.

  • by INT_QRK ( 1043164 ) on Thursday November 20, 2014 @08:59PM (#48430893)
    So, how can you be sure that "click here" in TFA doesn't itself download malware disguised as malware detection? If I were a black-hat govy who wanted to root out people worried about government malware, I might use such a ruse. Think about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Amnesty International added to the list of terrorist organizations in 3... 2... 1...

  • A single closed-source executable from a German organization claiming to have the support of Amnesty International.

    Seems legit.

  • by Mistakill ( 965922 ) on Friday November 21, 2014 @09:08AM (#48432919)
    Using Windows 8.1 Update 1, fully patched.... *facedesk*
  • I love my government. -_-

  • As a "non-government" organisation, is Amnesty International crossing a line into "anti-government" behaviour? How might this impact Amnesty's credibility when engaging with government on human rights issues?"

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