Blaming gun makers and Indian government framing activists 

in February 19th, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of February 19, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

This is our 100th edition of Below the Fold! 🤯 We can hardly believe that we began (digitally) penning this newsletter 100 emails ago. At Edition 0, we were writing short summaries on 5-8 stories, once a week. We’ve since evolved to what you see today: three stories, twice a week, researched in depth with additional context to help provide a clear picture of what’s happening.


GUN CONTROL

Canada may be holding a U.S. gun maker responsible for shootings

Fri Feb 12

Is a gun maker responsible for gun safety? A Canadian court believes so. Two years ago in Toronto, a shooter killed two people (a teen and a child) and injured 11 with a stolen semi-automatic pistol made by Smith & Wesson, a firearms manufacturer based in Massachusetts.

Now, victims want to hold the company liable for inadequate safeguards. The judge ruled in favor, saying the handgun didn’t include available smart gun technology that would restrict use to only authorized owners. The ruling comes two decades after Smith & Wesson had agreed to make government-sponsored “smart” guns to prevent accidental shootings. However, by 2018, they told shareholders they had no plans to invest in smart gun technology after a boycott from gun owners that nearly drove them out of business.

Canada also just introduced a bill with a number of restrictions for gun owners. The legislation, if passed, would allow police to seize firearms for up to 30 days without warrant, search the home of any gun owner subject to a legal complaint, and potentially outlaw the transport of handguns all together. The bill is already concerning some legal experts who worry it could lead to search and seizures based on fake claims.

Meanwhile in the U.S., legislation passed in 2005 makes it nearly impossible for gun makers to be responsible for what happens with the use of their products. That said, there are six exceptions to the rule, when a gun maker violates any laws in marketing their product. 

Want to learn more? 


SPYWARE

The Indian government is under fire for arrests based on planted evidence

Sun Feb 14

Over a dozen Indian activists have been in jail for two years, without trial, on the basis of false evidence. The 16 activists, who had been campaigning for the rights of low-caste Hindus, minority Muslims, and other vulnerable Indians, were accused of plotting to overthrow the government in 2018. Among the arrested individuals is an 81-year-old professor of linguistics and an 83-year-old Jesuit priest.

Now a new report shows the evidence held against them in court was planted. How?

  • Well before any arrests were made, activists' devices (such as laptops seized by police) were being attacked and compromised through phishing to deliver commercially available spyware.
  • Those phishing emails uniquely targeted the activists, pretending to be from individuals like friends or journalists, and repeatedly asked them to open an email attachment.
  • Opening the attached file then installed the spyware (NetWire or Pegasus) that not only planted false documents, but also monitored the activists.
  • Currently, the source of the attack is not known. Some suspect government involvement given Pegasus is an Israeli spyware sold directly to authorized governments.

Planted evidence isn’t anything new to the country, though. A 2015 report found 3,000+ members of the Adivasi community (another religious minority in India) were falsely accused of being Maoists, an Indian communist party that the country has designated as a terrorist group. In fact, the fabricated documents that led to the 16 aforementioned activists being imprisoned included “evidence” of their being in cahoots with the Maoists. 

Some additional resources...

  • To dig deeper into this story and the history of Maoist fighters, visit Coda Story.
  • For the full report on the recently discovered planted evidence, turn to the Washington Post here and here.  

ASCII ART OF THE WEEK
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I have extra ZzzZZz’s in my Z-DNA! 

ASCII Art Credit: jgs

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