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Journalism in the Age of Spyware: Defending Freedom of the Press and Countering Threats Posed by Surveillance Technologies in Latin America

Date & Time

Sep. 7, 2023
9:30am – 11:00am ET


A growing threat haunts journalists and political activists worldwide: spyware, a new form of electronic surveillance that presents considerable challenges to freedom of the press. Various actors, including private companies, have developed sophisticated malware to infiltrate personal computers and smartphones, avoiding detection. Governments and other actors worldwide, especially in Latin America, are deploying these tools to spy on rivals and critics, including politicians, activists, and journalists who are largely defenseless against this surveillance. The illegal surveillance of journalists exposes them to blackmail, puts their sources at risk, and discourages investigative reporting, including investigations into public corruption.

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, we hosted a public dialogue on the urgent threat of private and state-sponsored surveillance and defending the freedom of the press. The dialogue was cohosted by the Wilson Center’s Latin America Program and IREX under the Civil Society and Media – Strengthened Together and in Advancing in New Directions initiative, together with the Wilson Center’s partners: Luminate, the International Republican Institute, and the Center for Media Integrity.

Civil Society and Media – Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND) is a USAID-funded, five-year Leader with Associates Award cooperative agreement to foster independent civic forces; enhance civic engagement; and build vibrant, resilient, and selfreliant civil society and media sectors that cultivate more pluralistic, democratic societies. CSM-STAND is comprised of leading global, regional, and technical practitioners specializing in different sectors who bring extensive practical experience and knowledge of fundamental principles, key issues, current practices, and emerging trends in the DRG community. CSM-STAND is implemented across two regions and is managed by Pact, which co-leads a consortium of organizations with IREX.


Alejandra Xanic

Alejandra Xanic

Editor, Quinto Elemento Lab
Dana Priest

Dana Priest

Reporter, The Washington Post
Carlos Dada

Carlos Dada

Director, El Faro
Ewald Scharfenberg

Ewald Scharfenberg


Hosted By

Latin America Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin America Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more

Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more

Thank you for your interest in this event. Please send any feedback or questions to our Events staff.