#imweekly: June 17, 2013
United States The National Security Agency has confirmed that it has been operating a global electronic surveillance program, collecting information from Google, Facebook, and other tech companies under a program called PRISM, after Booz Allen employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked inside documents. The news has triggered a widespread outcry from human rights advocates and organizations.
Saudi Arabia In March, Saudi Arabian officials declared that the country would block access to three popular voice and messaging services—Viber, Skype, and WhatsApp—if the companies did not give the government access to local monitoring services. The government has followed through on its threat, blocking Viber on June 6. On June 11, the block was rescinded, though whether Viber has complied with government demands for monitoring access is unclear.
Iran Iranian Gmail users were reporting evidence of phishing attacks, just days before last week's presidential elections. The attacks, which appear to be originating from within the country, have been occurring for three weeks; in a blog post, Google Vice President of Security Engineering Eric Grosse said the attacks were likely politically motivated. Google security staff said the phishing attacks appeared to be conducted by the same group that conducted attacks in Iran in 2011 using a fraudulent Google certificate.