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Saudi Arabia: Human Rights Watch highlights role of surveillance technology in govt. violations of activists' human rights

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, 'The High Cost of Change’: Repression Under Saudi Crown Prince Tarnishes Reforms’, reveals an increasingly repressive environment in Saudi Arabia, despite promises of reform. HRW documented a proliferation of human rights violations including arbitrary detention, unfair trials and torture amid a deepening crackdown on activists, women’s rights defenders and perceived dissidents.

The report highlights the government’s deployment of surveillance and technology companies to hack into the account of critics, including through the use of spyware apparently produced and sold by NSO.  HRW also points to the government’s use of Twitter to threaten activists. HRW makes a number of recommendations to technology companies, including halting the sale of surveillance technology to Saudi Arabia, improving transparency regarding how their technology is used, investigating the potential use of their technology against activists, and advocating for the release of activists detained for exercising their freedom of expression.

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