Issue 546 of New Internationalist

Reader-owned global journalism

Issue 546 of New Internationalist: Spying on dissent

November-December 2023

Surveillance: Spying on dissent

It’s never been easier for governments to spy on dissent. Spyware that turns dissenters’ phones into weapons, drones that watch protests from above and facial recognition are just some of the tech diluting our rights.

In this edition, we explore the impact of state surveillance on society and movements, and look at how activists are fighting back.

Preview this issue in digital format on Exact Editions or subscribe to get your print and/or digital copy.


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Climate capitalism

In this issue

Jordi Cuixart, the former president of NGO Òmnium Cultural, delivers a speech ahead of the regional Catalan elections in 2015 (27S), which was treated as a de facto vote on independence. Cuixart was sentenced to nine years in jail four years later, over his role in the 2017 independence referendum. While in jail his phone was targeted with Pegasus spyware. Four members of Òmnium, a pro-independence organisation, were also spied on. MATTHIAS OESTERLE/ZUMA WIRE/ALAMY LIVE NEWS

The big story

Spies, damned spies

How far are states willing to go to spy on dissent? Bethany Rielly explores Catalonia’s murky world of police infiltrators and spyware to find out.
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360° Repression

Myanmar’s military junta is expanding its sinister systems of surveillance, but anti-coup activists are adapting to the shrinking space for dissent. Preeti Jha reports.
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Spy games

Antony Loewenstein looks at Israel’s role in the insidious spread of dangerous spyware tools across the world.
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Under Amazon’s eyes

Taj Ali explores how the retail titan’s dystopian systems of surveillance watch workers on the assembly and picket lines.
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Q&A: Overwatched and underserved

Bethany Rielly speaks to Hamid Khan and Matyos Kidane of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition on how they’re taking on police surveillance of their neighbourhoods.
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Protest spy-tech

Police have an eye-watering arsenal of high-tech tools to spy on protests. We spoke to privacy campaigners to gather some top tips on how you can protect your devices and anonymity. A visualization by David Senior.
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Towards a post-capitalist internet

Big Tech’s model of surveillance is baked into today’s internet. Juan Ortiz Freuler makes the case for a new world wide web beyond capitalism.
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A Shompen band traversing a river on Great Nicobar Island. ANTHROPOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA


Democracy in the ‘coup belt’

To understand why Africans welcome coup plotters with open arms, we must look at Senegal.

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Introducing… Guatemala’s Bernardo Arévalo

Against all odds, the anti-corruption crusader won the election and gave the country at least some hope.

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UK spreads digital censorship

The Online Safety Bill could create a ‘blueprint for repression around the world’.

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Outcry over old growth logging in Tasmania

Environmentalists’ anger spills over as logging jeopardizes the island’s ability to serve as a carbon sink.

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The emissions of prohibition

The ‘war on drugs’ is a major contributor to climate change and rainforest degradation, campaigners say.

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Mega-development imperils uncontacted tribe in India

Like all uncontacted tribe, the Shompen are among the most vulnerable societies on Earth.

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Argentina’s own Donald Trump

Another deranged politician is just what the world needs… Right?

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An office worker rides his bicycle in Hamilton, Bermuda. GAVIN HELLIER/ALAMY


Letter from La Muyuna

Stephanie Boyd searches for the spirit world beneath the Amazon river
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Country profile: Bermuda

Can the country’s success be separated from the enslavement of people ripped from Africa?

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Cartoon History: The Algerian War of Indepenendence

ILYA charts the long ‘dirty war’ that left Algeria finally free of French rule – but at what cost?
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Temperature Check

Danny Chivers reports on how the people of Ecuador took down the oil giants.
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Southern Exposure

Asmaa Waguih gets an enchanting shot of a whirling dervish in Old Cairo.
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Hall of Infamy: Ren Zhengfei

Who needs workers’ rights when you can bask in the genius of Huawei’s multi-millionaire CEO?
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The Puzzler

Take a crack at this issue’s puzzle!

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Agony Uncle

I’m a trans woman: Should I go to Jordan for a year? NI’s in-house ethics adviser chips in.
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What if… We answered Isis with restorative justice?

Matt Broomfield looks at the possibilities.
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Mahammoud Traore, 75, supports a family of 21 people through farming in Dougouninkoro, Mali, but new weather patterns mean they can no longer harvest enough for their food stores to last the whole year. JAKE LYELL/ALAMY


View from India

Nilanjana Bhowmick demands that policymakers give women a more active role in building peace.
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View from Africa

Rosebell Kagumire argues that a more just approach to climate change is needed.
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View from Brazil

Lula is attempting to make Brazil’s tax system more progressive – but faces a tough struggle, says Leonardo Sakamoto.
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Climate coups

Gambian MP Abdoulie Ceesay argues that the climate crisis is behind the Sahel’s political instability – and asks the West to put its money where its mouth is to tackle it.
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Workers pull tourists through the meadows of Gulmarg, a popular skiing destination in Jammu and Kashmir on 7 February 2021. SOPA IMAGES LIMITED/ALAMY


A holiday in Kashmir

Pranay Somayajula explores how the nationalist Indian government is trying to make Kashmir a ‘tourist hotspot’.
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‘Leave us alone’

Natasha Ion reports from Tunisia on how one city’s residents are taking on the country’s phosphate industry.
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The Long Read: Paris isn’t dead yet

Author Cole Stangler speaks to the residents of the banlieues as the Olympics draws closer.
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From the archive: Life sentence

Debbie Taylor argues that women are imprisoned by domestic work.
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Mixed media

The long review

Jack Dunleavy examines Motion Sickness by Lynne Tillman and finds a republished classic a little too earnest for its own good.
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Book reviews

Lean on Me: The politics of Radical Care by Lynne Segal; Pharmanomics: How Big Pharma Destroys Global Health by Nick Dearden; Nightbloom by Peace Adzo Medie; Scammer by Caroline Calloway.
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Film reviews

Fallen leaves directed and written by Aki Kaurismäki; Tish directed by Paul Sng.
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Music reviews

Some Mississippi Sunday Morning by Parchman Prison Prayer; One Drop of Kindness by Yungchen Lhamo.
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Spotlight: Cian Dayrit

The Filipino artist chats to Conrad Landin about chronicling oppression and resistance.
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