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Govt to stop wiretap reform – Bonafede

Freezing of case time-outs after 1st ruling being considered

Redazione ANSA

(ANSA) – Rome, July 11 – Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede said Wednesday that the government will sink a reform of the use of wiretaps in investigations that was approved by the previous centre-left administration. “The wiretap reform will be stopped because the modifications introduced appear a harmful step back on the road to quality and effectiveness in investigations,” Bonafede told the Senate’s justice committee.
    The reform was in response to years of rows over the publication of wiretaps of people not involved in probes, embarrassing them without due cause.
    Bonafede also said he the 5-Star Movement/League government wants to change to Italy’s statute of limitations to prevent people getting off simple because their cases have timed out, saying this was “fundamental priority”.
    He said one option was for the time-out periods to be frozen after a first-instance ruling on a case.
   
 
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Scientists claim ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba were likely caused by poorly engineered eavesdropping devices

  • US embassy workers in Cuba fell ill after hearing high-pitch sounds

  • The ‘sonic attacks’ were experienced in their homes and hotel rooms

  • It was thought that ‘sonic weapons’ might have been used against them

  • Scientists at the University of Michigan believe that poorly engineered eavesdropping devices might’ve produced the painful sound

  • If true, the ‘sonic attacks’ on the workers would have been accidental

Scientists believe the root of a ‘sonic attack’ that led to the US State Department recalling 21 employees and reducing staff from its embassy in Cuba could’ve just been ‘bad engineering.’

In September 2017, the State Department pulled 21 diplomats and their families out of Cuba and stopped issuing travel visas to the country after embassy workers reported hearing loss, dizziness, speech issues, cognitive problems and other medical symptoms that appeared to stem from a ‘sonic attack’ in their homes or hotel rooms. 

Some Canadian embassy workers also reported feeling ill from a high-pitched noise. 

Doctors, FBI investigators and US intelligence agencies all tried to identify the source of the ‘sonic attack,’ with some people postulating that a sonic weapon or even a poisoning was being deployed against the embassy workers.

 

The effected workers — who had reported hearing agonizing, high-pitched noises in very specific areas of their rooms — were found to have had suffered mild traumatic brain injury, but doctors at the time were not able to determine what exactly had happened to the workers’ brains.     

By December, officials had stopped using the term ‘sonic attack,’ with sources implying to the AP that the noise that caused the workers to fall ill might actually have been a byproduct of something else, rather than what had been deemed a ‘targeted attack.’   

A new report from the University of Michigan now suggests the ‘sonic attack’ was actually the result of eavesdropping devices that were in too close proximity, which then accidentally set off an ultrasonic noise, the Daily Beast reports.

If true, that would imply that the ‘sonic attack’ was actually an accident, not something aimed at deliberately harming American or Canadian embassy workers.  

‘We’ve demonstrated a scenario in which the harm might have been unintentional, a byproduct of a poorly engineered ultrasonic transmitter that was meant to be covert,’ Kevin Fu, a University of Michigan associate professor of computer science and engineering, told the Michigan Engineer News Center.

‘A malfunctioning device that was supposed to inaudibly steal information or eavesdrop on conversation with ultrasonic transmission seems more plausible than a sonic weapon.’

Fu did note, however, that despite his team’s findings, ‘our results do not rule out other potential causes.’

Fu, who researches computer security and privacy, and the co-authors of the study were inspired to look into what might have caused the ‘sonic attack’ after the AP released an audio sample that an embassy worker had recorded of the painfully high-pitched noise in question.

 

Mexico presidential hopeful says he is target of government spying

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Mexican presidential candidate denounced on Tuesday alleged surveillance of his movements by the government and demanded an explanation, the latest in a series of accusations that Mexico is spying without due cause on its own citizens.

Ricardo Anaya, a former congressman in second place in many opinion polls ahead of July’s election, published a video on Twitter that shows him confronting the driver of a vehicle following him on a highway who identifies himself as a member of the country’s main intelligence agency, CISEN.

 
In the video, the smiling agent says he is following Anaya “so that there’s no problem.”

Government surveillance has raised major concerns in Mexico in recent months, with reports of journalists, NGO workers and opposition politicians being tracked. Fears about Russian attempts to influence the election have also made headlines.

 
Anaya, who is a critic of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of President Enrique Pena Nieto and leads a left-right opposition coalition, also posted photos of another vehicle he claims was following him.

“Instead of following criminals, they spy on opponents of the government,” said Anaya, the former president of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), in a post on Twitter.

Anaya demanded in a statement that the government explain the criteria it uses to “spy on opposition politicians.”

A government official denied that Anaya was a surveillance target.

“This is not a case of espionage or spying on opponents or clandestine measures,” said Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete at an event in Mexico City when asked about Anaya’s comments.

“We follow up on all important activities that happen in the country.”

Leftist presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the front-runner in polls, said last week that he and his family have also been targets of spying.

 
Last year, the Pena Nieto government was criticized by United Nations human rights experts over University of Toronto research findings that it had targeted activists and journalists using sophisticated spying software known as Pegasus.

The software is marketed by Israeli company NSO Group, which only sells it to governments.

The researchers said they had found a trace of the Pegasus software in a phone belonging to a group of experts backed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The group had investigated the 2014 disappearance of 43 students that marked one of Mexico’s worst atrocities.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by David Alire Garcia, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Source: Reuters

Oklahoma politicians stunned by discovery of possible spying

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Republican lawmaker’s discovery of a magnetic box containing a high-tech tracking device affixed to the bottom of his truck is being investigated by Oklahoma officials, who also revealed that four other GOP legislators have reported concerns they were being followed.

The mysterious discovery has stunned Oklahoma’s political class, and raised questions about who would spy on lawmakers.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater described the tactics as “foolish” and potentially criminal. He vowed an aggressive prosecution if evidence suggests someone was trying to intimidate Rep. Mark McBride, who found the device on his truck.

McBride says he found the experience “unsettling” and believes it is connected to his legislative work.

Prater says four other GOP legislators approached him last year with concerns that they were being followed.