Week in Review: September 30, 2015

by Muira McCammon

Facebook Will Provide Internet Access to UN Refugee Camps

On Saturday, September 26th, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the 70th annual UN General Assembly session and vowed to help refugees obtain Internet access. In his speech, Zuckerberg noted, “Insuring [access] is essential to achieving global justice and opportunity." Alongside Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates, Charlize Theron, Richard Branson, Jimmy Wales, and Arianna Huffington, he also published an Internet "connectivity declaration." While Facebook has disclosed few specifics on how Internet access would be delivered to UN refugee camps, Zuckerberg did explain the benefits of the proposed program: "Connectivity will help refugees better access support from the aid community and maintain links to family and loved ones. Facebook is in a unique position to help maintain this lifeline."

Germany: Anti-Surveillance Group Launches International Campaign 

This past week, a group of Berlin-based activists began a global effort to encourage employees of the American NSA and British GCHQ to quit their jobs. As part of their initiative, called "Intelexit," the group placed a series of billboards and advertisements near intelligence agency buildings in Darmstadt, Germany; Fort Meade, Maryland; and elsewhere. The group’s website includes a tool that aims to help intelligence agents draft their resignation letters. They also include a video featuring NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and Berkman affiliate Professor Bruce Schneier. The initiative attracted the attention of many international news outlets [FR] [GR] [RU]. In an online pamphlet, Intelexit staff explained, " Even if you are not an intelligence agent yourself, you can still help. If you know some- one who is working in intelligence, you can guide them slowly towards the decision to exit." At time of writing, the website is only available in German and English. 

Iran: News of Young Blogger's Arrest Hits the Web

A prominent Iranian technology blogger, Arash Zad, appears to have been detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's intelligence units in July 2015. However, word of his incarceration did not reach the international community of digital activists until early September. Now, a campaign is underway to determine his whereabouts as well as the exact crime he has been accused of committing. The Internet researcher Nariman Gharib told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “We didn’t find out about Arash’s arrest until we started getting phishing emails from his personal account."

USA: Russian Developer of Citadel Malware Receives Lengthy Sentence

According to the FBI, Dimitry Belorossov, known by his collaborators online as Rainerfox, has been sentenced to four years, six months in prison for attempting to commit "computer fraud." Belorossov is said to have installed Citadel, a type of malware, on over 11 million computers. U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash sentenced Belorossov and is also requiring him to pay more than $320,000 in restitution. U.S. authorities believe that Belorossov collaborated with a global cyber crime ring, which ultimately stole more than $500 million from various financial institutions, including American Express Co, Bank of America Corp, Credit Suisse AG, PayPal Holdings Inc, HSBC Holdings PLC, JPMorgan Chase & Co , Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo & Co.

The Internet Monitor Week in Review is a weekly round-up of news about Internet content controls and online activity around the world.