Iranians react angrily to education minister comments on sending students into war

Iranians have reacted angrily to comments made by the country’s education minister Mohammad Bathaee about the regime’s willingness to send schoolchildren to war. (INRA/File Photo)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Iranians react angrily to education minister comments on sending students into war

LONDON: Iranians have reacted angrily to comments made by the country’s education minister Mohammad Bathaee about the regime’s willingness to send schoolchildren to war.
In a speech on May 10, Bathaie said: “We have 14 million students in school, and they are willing to sacrifice their lives if we need them, such as in the period of the sacred defense,” making a reference to the Iran-Iraq War.
The Iranian Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child condemned the minister's statements.
And Iranians also took to social media to vent their anger at the comments. Prominent singer Zepa Murmalki said: “This is the minister in charge of educating the next generation of Iranians." Others claimed the minister’s own son had not performed military service.
Tensions between Iran and the US, and its Gulf allies, have been rising in recent weeks. The US has sent further military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and its interests in the region.
It is not the first time Iran has been warned about the use of child soldiers. Human Rights Watch has consistently accused the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of sending children of Afghan refugees to fight in Syria.
And a report in UK newspaper the Mirror earlier this week revealed that Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have been accused of luring child soldiers to fight by giving them keys and promising them it is to “enter paradise” when they die in the country’s ongoing conflict.
In December 2018, a senior Houthi military official acknowledged to Associated Press that they had inducted 18,000 child soldiers into their army — some as young as 10-years-old — since the beginning of the Yemeni conflict in 2014.


Israel spyware firm can mine data from social media: FT

Updated 19 July 2019
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Israel spyware firm can mine data from social media: FT

  • An Israeli cybersecurity company has developed spyware that can scrape data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft products
  • Pegasus harvests not only data stored on a device, but also any information stored in the cloud, including a user’s location data, archived messages and photos

JERUSALEM: An Israeli spyware firm thought to have hacked WhatsApp in the past has told clients it can scoop user data from the world’s top social media, the Financial Times reported Friday.
The London paper wrote that NSO group had “told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch.”
An NSO spokesperson, responding in a written statement to AFP’s request for comment, denied the allegation.
“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of NSO, its services and technology,” it said.
“NSO’s products do not provide the type of collection capabilities and access to cloud applications, services, or infrastructure as listed and suggested in today’s FT article.”
In May, Facebook-owned WhatsApp said it had released an update to plug a security hole in its messaging app that allowed insertion of sophisticated spyware that could be used to spy on journalists, activists and others.
It said the attack bore “all the hallmarks of a private company that works with a number of governments around the world.”
It did not name a suspect but Washington-based analyst Joseph Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said at the time that the hack appeared related to the NSO’s Pegasus software.
It is normally sold to law enforcement and intelligence services.
Friday’s FT report, citing documents it had viewed and descriptions of a product demonstration, said the program had “evolved to capture the much greater trove of information stored beyond the phone in the cloud, such as a full history of a target’s location data, archived messages or photos.”
NSO says it does not operate the Pegasus system, only licensing it to closely vetted government users “for the sole purpose of preventing or investigating serious crime including terrorism.”
The group came under the spotlight in 2016 when researchers accused it of helping spy on an activist in the United Arab Emirates.
NSO is based in the Israeli seaside hi-tech hub of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. It says it employs 600 people in Israel and around the world.
Pegasus is a highly invasive tool that can reportedly switch on a target’s cell phone camera and microphone, and access data on it, effectively turning the phone into a pocket spy.
“Increasingly sophisticated terrorists and criminals are taking advantage of encrypted technologies to plan and conceal their crimes, leaving intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the dark and putting public safety and national security at risk,” the company statement said.
“NSO’s lawful interception products are designed to confront this challenge.”