Digital Violence Exposes NSO’s Tools Targetting Activists

computer screen

NSO made the news again due to their tools being used to spy on Bahraini and Hungarian activists, which obviously isn’t good. NSO is a cyber security organization that focuses on offensive rather than defence; they sell hacking tools and exploits to target individuals. Anyone with enough money can buy their attack tools, including rich individuals or companies. In Mexico their spying tool was used to intimidate campaigners asking the government to regulate sugar content in sofas.

We know spying on human rights activists is not good for anyone, and three organizations teamed up to expose how NSO supports such spying (and thus abuse). Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International, and Citizen Lab all worked together to create a neat website called Digital Violence which explores the complexity and reach of NSO’s tools.

First detected in 2015, the NSO Group’s Pegasus malware has reportedly been used in at least 45 countries worldwide to infect the phones of activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Having learnt that our former collaborators and close associates were hacked by Pegasus, Forensic Architecture undertook 15 months of extensive open-source research, interviews assisted by Laura Poitras, and developed bespoke software to present this data as an interactive 3D platform, along with video investigations narrated by Edward Snowden to tell the stories of the individuals targeted and the web of corporate affiliations within which NSO is nested. Supported by Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab, our analysis reveals relations and patterns between separate incidents in the physical and digital sphere, demonstrating how infections are entangled with real world violence, and extend within the professional and personal networks of civil society actors worldwide.

Check out digital violence.

One way to defend yourself from NSO group and other malicious agents is to keep your software up to date. Apple released a patch this week, so update your Apple devices.

Master Resilience Improves Gender Equality in Mexico City

Water scarcity is a real problem in Mexico City, and due to existing gender inequality women bare the brunt of the costs of a lack of water. This manifests itself in everything from laundry to buying potable water, both are time consuming endeavours in places with water scarcity. Mexico City launched a program a few years ago to naturalize rain water collection while also enhancing their rain barrel water collection for homes. These changes combined have had a very positive impact on water usage and gender equality in the city.

The program helps install rainwater harvesting systems, which capture the rain that falls on roofs of houses. Water is stored in a cistern, which can then be used for domestic purposes. It can also be used as drinking water if given additional treatment. These systems can provide a family with water for between five to eight months of the year.

By prioritizing households headed by women, single mothers, indigenous people, older adults and people with disabilities, the program aims to improve equity across the board. To date, more than 13,000 female heads of household have benefited — comprising around 65% of installed rainwater harvesting systems.

Read more.

Taxing Sugary Water Works

Beverages infused with copies amounts of sugar like Pepsi or Coke aren’t good for you health. When an entire nation consumes too much then public health suffers greatly. This has many governments looking into how they can stymie this overconsumption of unhealthy drinks. One solution is taxing soda sales.

in 2014 the Mexican government started such a tax and consumption has dropped. To prove its effectiveness researchers looked into how much of an impact the tax had on people drinking pop.


A study published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal suggests the tax is working: After one year, sales of sugar-sweetened drinks in Mexico dropped by 12 percent. And among poor households, which have the highest levels of obesity and untreated diabetes, sales fell by 17 percent.

These results are not surprising, but their empirical confirmation is of the greatest importance for governments that have opted to use taxes on sugar sweetened beverages as part of public health strategies, and those considering to do it,” wrote Franco Sassi, head of the public health program of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation.

Read more.

Thanks to Delaney!

Strong Climate Change Law Passes in Mexico

Of the three countries in NAFTA, Mexico seems to care the most about the environment. The country just passed a strong law that will product the environment and aim to cut carbon emissions.

The new law contains many sweeping provisions to mitigate climate change, including a mandate to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30% below business-as-usual levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050.

Furthermore, it stipulates that 35% of the country’s electricity should come from renewable sources by 2024, and requires mandatory emissions reporting by the country’s largest polluters. The act also establishes a commission to oversee implementation, and encourages development of a carbon-trading scheme. Although there was initial resistance from Mexico’s steel and cement industries, the bill passed with bipartisan support.

Read more in Nature.

Sustainable Power in Southern Mexico

Here’s an informative short video on energy entrepreneurs in a poor part of southern Mexico the provide sustainable electricity to locals. The generators are built locally and are designed to allow almost anyone build a generator. This is really good to see happening.

Scroll To Top
%d bloggers like this: