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COVID 1984_ Propaganda and Surveillance during a Pandemic

Mauro Eldritch


What does a propaganda apparatus look like from the inside? How do groups dedicated to setting trends and censoring the opposition act? What if your government forces you to install an app that tracks you during the pandemic? What if we infiltrate a sock puppet account to understand all this better?

The official political propaganda and digital surveillance in Argentina are not new. However, in the last fifteen years, both phenomena have adopted in their favor a new technological approach worthy of study, with the emergence of companies dedicated to manufacturing online trends; cyber militancy groups aimed at setting up debates, responding to them or denouncing rival trends in a coordinated way; the project to establish an exclusive social network for pro-government and “against the establishment” militants (sponsored by the Government itself); the rise of state digital surveillance after the implementation of a Cyber ​​Patrol Protocol, and the permanent monitoring of citizens through a mandatory mobile government application during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This work aims not only to review the previous events, but also to detail the two greatest milestones of political propaganda and digital surveillance in Argentina today: the political propaganda apparatus on social networks and the digital privacy abuses caused by the government application CUIDAR-COVID19  (ar.gob.coronavirus).

For the first case, a fictitious account (sock puppet) will be infiltrated within the propaganda apparatus on social networks to achieve a detailed technical dissection of its entire operation (including its interventions and actors). Our own cyber intelligence tool, Venator.lua, will be used to obtain and process data. The following section will be devoted to the study of privacy abuses caused by the mandatory government application CUIDAR-COVID19, reverse engineering it and analyzing its source code.

Quick Info


Venue for DEF CON 27:
Talks: Celebrity 5
InfoBooth and CTF: Contest Area
Planet Hollywood
Las Vegas.

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