Social Media Surveillance and Targeting Muslims: ShadowDragon

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

There is no upper limit of precaution that a Muslim can take with regards to technological surveillance in the modern age. This is despite the fact that nearly all companies have information technology departments and privacy policies today.

Micheal Kwet writes regarding a new surveillance software the the US government is using for The Intercept:

The software, put out by a Wyoming company called ShadowDragon, allows police to suck in data from social media and other internet sources, including Amazon, dating apps, and the dark web, so they can identify persons of interest and map out their networks during investigations. By providing powerful searches of more than 120 different online platforms and a decade’s worth of archives, the company claims to speed up profiling work from months to minutes. ShadowDragon even claims its software can automatically adjust its monitoring and help predict violence and unrest.

Companies offering us services often voice their concern for user privacy. However, this is more out of preserving their interests vis-a-vis user-base retention as opposed to any sort of ethics.

RELATED: Israeli Software May Be Monitoring You Right Now

Companies outright lie about their usage of their users’ data, however oftentimes these things are swept under the rug.

Allah says:

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا إِن جاءَكُم فاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنوا أَن تُصيبوا قَومًا بِجَهالَةٍ فَتُصبِحوا عَلىٰ ما فَعَلتُم نادِمينَ

O you who have faith! If a profligate [person] should bring you some news, verify it, lest you should visit [harm] on some people out of ignorance, and then become regretful for what you have done.

Muslims must verify these companies’ claims that they respect our privacy.

The data brokerage industry depends on collecting data from individuals and selling it. This personal data is referred to as the “new oil.” We do not pay for these services with money. We pay for it with our data, by consenting for them to take it and sell it.

RELATED: Are Muslim Activists Spying on the Muslim Community?

They sell this data to businesses and the government. Kwet writes:

Kaseware and ShadowDragon are part of a shadowy industry of software firms that exploit what they call “open source intelligence,” or OSINT: the trails of information that people leave on the internet. Clients include intelligence agencies, government, police, corporations, and even schools.

These companies develop highly targeted profiles. When does a person check their app? How does that correlate with their greater smartphone usage? They then create categories of individuals.

For example, if they notice five-thousand Americans all wake-up at 6:30am or so, and that all of these Americans also use a salah app, that these Americans all have GPS data which indicates that they ordinarily go to their local masajid, then they can begin targeting these individuals for marketing purposes – or more nefarious ones.

Many of these companies are required to or voluntarily contract with the United States intelligence and military structures. Kwet:

Clemens said the company is able to monitor chat platforms like Telegram through public sources of information, which reveal, for example, “if you respond to a public thread of Twitter or public Telegram group.” He added, “We don’t evade any encryption implementations because we’re not interested in weakening the technical security for other platforms.” Clemens declined to elaborate on what “capabilities” SocialNet has “for more hardened and encrypted/secure communication protocols.”

Muslims are disproportionately targeted by the arms of government and there is utter lawlessness in the courts. This is an incredibly large concern for Muslim youth in particular, who are routinely entrapped or the subject of entrapment attempts.

Many Muslim youth are incarcerated domestically and abroad, sometimes for decades at a time with no support system, as a result of these campaigns. There is no doubt that social media and messaging apps that are reckless with our personal data have a role to play in finding individuals who are “susceptible” or “sympathetic” to “radicalism.”

Muslims must move to open-source technologies and encrypted communications. There is no telling how these spywares affect our hayaa and our personal safety. These companies do not respect our privacy, which is a huge issue for our Muslim women, and they do not respect our safety, something which has been used to attack our Muslim men.

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Baz (SL)

“Muslims must move to open-source technologies and encrypted communications.”

I have a much better and easier and time-tested proven solution for Muslims, which is also compatible with the Sunnah and also 100% legal in the United States ; a group of like-minded Muslims come together to buy some land in the countryside which is preferably agriculturally fertile, and set up a little village there and live a low tech lifestyle. Buy some RV caravan motorhomes if you cannot afford to build cheap houses. And for local transport, use bicycles, horses and donkeys instead of motor vehicles which make you hostage to the outside world economy. Even the new electric vehicles could be hijacked remotely.

And avoid having television in every home and phone or iPad for every person. Instead, only the village chief or elders should have access to one Internet-enabled computer in the village HQ, as the only source of communication with the outside world, and only for necessary or essential or emergency communications. By living this low tech lifestyle in isolated village, not only will you evade violation of your privacy, but you will also protect your traditional religious Conservative culture, lifestyle and values. This has been proven for centuries by the Amish people, some Mennonites, and some Haredi people.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “A time will soon come when the best property of a Muslim will be sheep which he will take on the top of mountains and the places of rainfall (valleys) so as to flee with his religion from afflictions.” Sahih al-Bukhari 19. Book 2, Hadith 12