The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada focusing on advanced research and development at the intersection of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), human rights, and global security. Learn more »

In Focus

One App, Two Systems: How WeChat uses one censorship policy in China and another internationally

In this report we provide the first systematic study of keyword and website censorship on WeChat, the most popular chat app in China

It’s Parliamentary: KeyBoy and the targeting of the Tibetan Community

In this report we track a malware operation targeting members of the Tibetan Parliament that used known and patched exploits to deliver a custom backdoor known as KeyBoy. We analyze multiple versions of KeyBoy revealing a development cycle focused on avoiding basic antivirus detection.

Harmonized Histories? A year of fragmented censorship across Chinese live streaming applications

In this report, we reverse engineer three popular live streaming platforms (YY, Sina Show, and 9158) and find keyword lists used to censor chat messages. Tracking changes to the keyword lists over the past year gives an inside look into how these applications implement censorship

Research News

“一APP两制”:微信如何区别审查中国及海外用户

多伦多大学公民实验室的最新报告揭露了微信平台的审查机制。微信是中国腾讯控股有限公司旗下的即时通讯应用,目前是中国最受欢迎的聊天软件之一,也是全球排名第四的最流行聊天软件

Security for the High-Risk User

Citizen Lab Senior Research Fellow John Scott-Railton has published an updated version of his “Security for the High-Risk user” paper, first published in the IEEE Security & Privacy in spring 2016. The updates were made based on new evidence of attacks against two-factor and account recovery SMSes, underlining the need for innovation in two-factor authentication.

Canada’s National Security Consultation: Digital Anonymity & Subscriber Identification Revisited… Yet Again

In this post, we critically examine the Government of Canada’s proposal to indiscriminately access subscriber identity information that is possessed by telecommunications service providers. We conclude by arguing that the government has failed to justify its case for such access to the information.

IMSI Catcher Report Calls for Transparency, Proportionality, and Minimization Policies

This report, written by Research Associate Christopher Parsons and CIPPIC Staff lawyer Tamir Israel, investigates the surveillance capabilities of IMSI Catchers, efforts by states to prevent information relating to IMSI Catchers from entering the public record, and the legal and policy frameworks that govern the use of these devices. The report principally focuses on Canadian agencies but, to do so, draws comparative examples from other jurisdictions. The report concludes with a series of recommended transparency and control mechanisms that are designed to properly contain the use of the devices and temper their more intrusive features.

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Lab News

Director Ron Deibert to testify at Canadian Senate committee

Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert will be giving testimony to the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Wednesday November 30th 2016 at 11:30 AM.

Christopher Parsons on the police’s mass text message to solve homicide

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) plans to send text messages to individuals who were present in the particular neighbourhood in which a homicide occurred, in an attempt to gain more information in solving the crime. Postdoctoral Fellow Christopher Parsons commented on the use and storage of this data.

Jason Q. Ng on Ali Baba CEO’s big data surveillance endorsement

In a recent speech, Ali Baba co-founder Jack Ma suggested that the Chinese government should use big data to help prevent crime, a view that resonates with the Communist party’s efforts to establish a system parsing citizen information online. Citizen Lab Senior Research Fellow Jason Q. Ng commented on Ma’s remarks in an interview with Bloomberg.

Bill Marczak and Morgan Marquis-Boire featured in Al Jazeera’s ‘Faultlines’

Citizen Lab Senior Research Fellow Bill Marczak and Senior Security Researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire were featured in an episode of Al Jazeera’s ‘Faultlines’ program, in an episode entitled “Crypto Wars: Behind the Encryption Debate.” They discussed attitudes concerning surveillance in the wake of the San Bernadino shooting as well as other terrorist activities.

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