Cybersecurity experts have issued a warning that the official Cop27 climate talks app, upon download, requires access to a user’s location, photos, and even emails. As a result, there are growing concerns regarding the surveillance of Cop27 delegates. )Egypt May Use )
Concerns have been raised that Egypt’s authoritarian regime will be able to officially use a United Nations event to persecute and harass attendees and critical local voices at the climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, which begins on Sunday and will host more than 25,000 heads of state, diplomats, negotiators, journalists, and activists from all over the world.
According to specialist Daniel Maki, the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology must be able to view emails, search photos, and locate locations in order to determine user information and conduct investigations before installing the official Cop27 app, which has been downloaded more than 5,000 times. (Egypt May Use )
The government of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi may be able to make use of this information to further suppress dissent in a nation that holds approximately 65,000 political prisoners. Egypt has carried out a series of mass arrests of people accused of being protesters in the run-up to Cop27 and is trying to screen and isolate any activists near the talks, which will mean governments will try to stop a Reach agreement on how to deal with the climate crisis.
Gennie Gebhart, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s director of advocacy, described the app as “a cartoon supervillain of an app.” The number of permissions required, which are unnecessary for the app to function and indicate that they are attempting to monitor attendees, is the biggest red flag.
“No sane person will consent to being spied on by a nation state or having their email read, but frequently people click on those permissions without giving them much thought.”
She added: “They don’t need these permissions for any good reason that I can think of. The use of this information is still up in the air, and it opens up a lot of scary possibilities. People censor themselves when they realize they are being watched in this manner, which can certainly have a silent effect. It has the potential to chill.
According to Hussein Baoumi of Amnesty International, the human rights organization’s technical staff conducted an investigation into the app and raised a number of concerns with Cop27.The app could pair two different apps and access the user’s camera, microphone, Bluetooth, and location data.
He stated, “It can be used for surveillance.”
“The issues they found were primarily the permissions being asked for,” Baoumi continued. The monitoring app can be used against you if granted. It sends data to two servers, one of which is in Egypt, after collecting it.This app can be used for bulk data collection from anyone who uses it, and the authorities do not specify what they do with this data.
Amr Magdi of Human Rights Watch said that his organization also looked into the app and found that it “opens doors to abuse.”
Magdi went on to say that gatherings like Cop27 are “an excellent opportunity for intelligence gathering from a security perspective,” and that this applies to particular activists “who want to know more about.” (Egypt May Use )
“You are now able to download the official #cop27 mobile app; however, you will be required to provide your full name, email address, mobile number, nationality, and passport number. Additionally, location tracking must be enabled. The next thing you notice is this: Egypt’s Personal Rights Initiative’s Hossam Baghat tweeted a link to an app screen with the Egyptian president’s face on it.
After that, he posted a screenshot to Twitter of the app’s terms of service, which read:Our application maintains all authority to get to client represents specialized, authoritative and security purposes.”
Egyptian officials’ concerns about the power of digital communications and their connection to the 2011 popular uprising were largely responsible for the development of a sophisticated infrastructure that monitors Egyptian citizens’ communications with grid flag networks for the purpose of digital surveillance of Cop27 participants.This includes the technology known as Deep Packet Inspection, which an American company released in 2013 and gives authorities the ability to monitor all web traffic that moves through a network.Using Sandvine technology, the Egyptian government is also preventing online access to over 500 websites, including Mada Masr, the sole independent news agency in the country.
Egyptian authorities have direct access to all users’ calls, text messages, and information thanks to major phone providers like Vodafone’s surveillance.According to a Cop27 attendee, Vodafone provided conference attendees with free SIM cards upon arrival at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
Baomi stated, “The Cop27 app is really part of the broader Egyptian surveillance structure.”This app comes from a nation that strictly enforces mass surveillance of its own citizens.Naturally, the Egyptian government’s app could be used for surveillance to collect data and use it for non-Cop27 purposes, which makes sense.It’s sad, but Egypt had expected it. (Egypt May Use )
Egyptian authorities have been closely monitoring human rights activists and anti-government civil society members for years, raising concerns about the dangers for prominent activists participating in Cop27.An “ongoing and large-scale phishing campaign against Egyptian civil society” was discovered in 2017 by EIPR and Citizen Lab. It targeted individuals like lawyers, journalists, and activists as well as organizations working on human rights, political freedom, and gender issues.Four years later, Citizen Lab discovered a new, targeted attempt to hack a prominent, ex-Egyptian opposition leader’s phone from overseas.
Maj. South Sinai GovernorRecently, Gen. Khaled Fouda boasted to a domestic cable channel about the extent of Cop27’s surveillance, which includes taxi cameras that send video to a local “security observatory.”
Magdi tweeted in response, “Sisi’s idea of’security’ is mass spying on everyone.”