Research

Mandatory App, Opaque Policies: The Policy Void that Threatens the Privacy of Qatar World Cup Attendees [REPORT]

For the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, a plethora of technologies are being deployed including smart city tech, drones, and facial recognition, and a mandatory digital registration system, known as Hayya (“let’s go” in Arabic). To access the tournament, spectators are required to obtain a Hayya card using the mandatory Hayya application. The Hayya …

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Internet Shutdowns to Prevent Cheating During Exams: The Impact on Society and Economy in the MENA Region

This SMEX research report was written by Sarah Cupler, an independent research consultant. It was funded by the Internet Society. The report, Internet Shutdowns to Prevent Cheating During Exams: The Impact on Society and Economy in the MENA Region, analyzes the use of internet shutdowns to combat cheating and to control information leaks during school …

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Billions in Squandered Funds: Court of Audit Report on the Telecom Sector in Lebanon

Editor’s note: In April 2022, the Lebanese Court of Audit issued a special report (No. 2/2022, based on report No. 114/2021), prepared by the Court’s fourth chamber, on the country’s telecom sector. The report analyzes the sector’s reality and details how public funds were systematically squandered, bringing the telecom sector to the brink of collapse …

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Data Protection in Saudi Arabia: Comparative Analysis

The Personal Data Protection Law (PDPL) is Saudi Arabia’s first comprehensive data protection law with the aim to protect individual privacy by regulating the collection, processing, disclosure, and retention of personal data. The PDPL provides a detailed framework including criteria for data processing, data subjects’ rights, entities’ obligations when processing personal data, data sovereignty and …

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[Report] Doxxing of Residential Information Targeting Vulnerable Groups: Online and Offline Harms 

As part of an Oversight Board process to issue a policy advisory opinion reviewing Meta’s policies on the sharing of private residential information, SMEX submitted a report on the doxxing of personal information—specifically residential information— and its impacts on vulnerable groups and individuals in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia.  Doxxing in the Arab region is …

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The Digital ID Landscape in the GCC: A Mapping of Programs, Regulations, and Human Rights Risks [Report 2021]

This report analyzes the implementation of digital ID systems in countries of the Gulf Council Cooperation (GCC), also referred to in this report as the “Gulf”. The GCC is an intergovernmental political and economic union made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates. The purpose of this report is …

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Libya’s New Cybercrime Law: Legislating Repression

On October 26, 2021, the Libyan House of Representatives passed the “Cybercrime Law,” one day after approving the “E-Transactions Law.” In reality, cybercrime laws in the region only serve those in power. These laws are often repressive and pose many restrictions to freedom of expression while legitimizing government control and censorship. The new Libyan Cybercrime …

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Covid-19 and Social Control in Lebanon [Report]

The Lebanese government’s response to Covid-19 was deeply affected by the failing economy and political unrest, both of which the government helped create. The government’s haphazard lockdown strategy, which shifted based on the political mood, was ultimately ineffective as the government did not develop a long-term strategy to deal with the pandemic. In some cases, …

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Data Protection and Privacy Laws In MENA: A Case Study Of Covid-19 Contact Tracing Apps [Report]

This report analyzes data protection and privacy laws in Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. Joey Shea, a researcher and analyst specialized in security and political repression, documents the deployment of COVID-19 contact tracing applications in these states. The report, which was supported through CYRILLA’s Applied Advocacy and Research Grants, compares each state’s …

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Device Seizures in Lebanon: Assessing the Legal Framework concerning device seizures [Report]

We have witnessed in the last couple of years a striking increase in the number of devices seized by security agencies in Lebanon, a phenomenon that became more pronounced following the October 2019 uprising. When it comes to these seizures, the legal framework is vague and often exploited or circumvented since it is subject to …

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The Future of Biometrics and Digital ID in Lebanon: Assessing Proposed Systems for Elections and Social Assistance [Report]

In Lebanon, passports, drivers’ licenses, work permits, residency permits, and humanitarian aid all use systems that require biometric data, such as  unique fingerprints or iris scans of citizens, residents, and refugees. In 2017, the newly passed electoral law stated that voters would use “magnetic voting cards” to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections, but the …

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Lebanese ISPs Lack Transparency

SMEX recently conducted research to assess the transparency of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Lebanon. Upon gathering information regarding licensed service providers in Lebanon through the Ministry of Telecommunication, we found that there are 114 licensed ISPs in the country: 39 ISPs have websites 4 ISPs have a privacy policy on their website 3 of …

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New Report: ”Analyzing Freedom of Expression in Lebanon in 2018”

Over the past four years, Lebanon has witnessed a crackdown against freedom of expression online. The state has penalized citizens, journalists, and civil society representatives who criticize government officials or mock religious figures, worsening the overall environment for free speech online. In our newest report, “Analyzing Freedom of Expression Online in Lebanon in 2018,” we …

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Online Privacy Threats to Women and LGBTIQ Communities in Lebanon

As part of the 16 Days Against Gender Based Violence, we are releasing our new report “Online Privacy Threats to Women and the LGBTIQ Community in Lebanon,” which documents the state of digital privacy for women and LGBTIQ individuals in the country. We found that although the digital space can be useful for creating safe …

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Mobile internet speeds up the Arab countries, but fixed broadband lags behind

 Feature image via Oakla: The internet speed chart in August – Lebanon.  Yet, it is interesting that many of the Arab countries have improved mobile internet speed, but they rank lower in fixed broadband as Lebanon, Egypt and Algeria are towards the bottom of the list. Mobile network ranking Lebanon had jumped 8 rankings from 35th …

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New Elections Study Shows Less than 2% of Overall Electoral Speech on Social Media Was Negative

 Feature image April 2018: A screenshot of the API used to track social media posts. SMEX and LADE collaborated to monitor candidates’ social media speech during the most recent Lebanese parliamentary elections. The increasing role of social media in shaping public opinion – especially during national elections – goes hand in hand with a rising …

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Dependent Yet Disenfranchised: The Policy Void That Threatens the Rights of Mobile Users in Arab States

  In the context of growing government control of mobile networks and a lack of transparency by both governments and companies in making these controls visible, this report, “Dependent Yet Disenfranchised: The Policy Void that Threatens the Rights of Mobile Users in Arab States” seeks to document the public disclosure of key policies by all …

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Human Rights Organizations Call for Investigation Into Arbitrary Surveillance Program in Lebanon

Feature image via Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch: A large watchful eye observes as three laptops display information on their screens.  (Beirut) – Lebanon’s general prosecutor should investigate reports of secret large-scale surveillance tied to a Lebanese intelligence agency, seven human rights and media organizations said today. Privacy and surveillance researchers on January 18, 2018, released a report …

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Digital Citizen 4.4

Feature image via Citizen Lab: Tag cloud of bait content topics used by Stealth Falcon showing a strong emphasis on political topics and narratives critical of the UAE government. In this month’s volume, we look at new research from Citizen Lab and provide updates on trials in the region. ACCESS & INTERFERENCE In mid-May, the …

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