How do the New York times reporters use technology in their work and personal lives? Azam Ahmed, director of the Mexican office in Mexico City, discussed the technology he is using.
What are the most important technical tools you can find in your job search?
The mobile phone and various messaging apps I use are the only truly indispensable technologies I have.
WhatsApp is probably the most widely used messaging service in Mexico. It’s almost the only way to get busy people to respond to you. Some sources use telegrams and signals, so I’m doing well, as other journalists have reported on sensitive issues that they don’t want to monitor.
My colleagues will laugh at this, but when I leave the grid, I will also use a GPS watch, wherever I am, with my coordinates. When I was in Kabul, Afghanistan, other journalists use it laughed at me, but I find that when I am in the absence of any services in remote areas, the whereabouts of my are available – and especially if it was a violent areas or may take place kidnapped region.
On the same trip, I’ll bring a satellite phone and a Bgan, which is essentially a small transmitter that lets you surf the Internet when you’re in the middle of everything. I’ve started to like super-long charging cables – I’m talking about 10 to 15 feet. You find yourself in a bad hotel room with an exit on the other end, and you’ll know why?
But all these things are in an ideal world. In the past two years, I have been sent twice for emergencies during the holidays without using any of my technical tools. After a devastating storm, 2016 was in Haiti. Last year, after a series of hurricane attacks in the Caribbean.
Has written about how Mexican journalists target spyware and other technologies. From what you find, how does the Mexican government use technology?
The government has a strict history of surveillance, and its use of technology is only the latest. There is no doubt that it is using technology to monitor, there is no doubt that it is paying for it, as all kinds of public contract and email involving government buy leaked hacking team software to see a few years ago.
However, how the government USES the technology seems far less mature. I often wonder if there are any human resources or resources to review all the information it collects from the surveillance operations. It has this incredibly sophisticated spyware, yet most of the evidence suggests that reckless use has no real material benefits. Sometimes you can feel the government buying a lamborghini running on the karting track.
What do you do, extensive brush strokes to keep your communication safe?
The least developed thing you can imagine: I meet people face to face.
I tend to avoid sending messages or talking about specific work goals on my major Mexican phone. I was pretty sure I was sent to Pegasus, the spyware bought by the Mexican government, although I had erased the phone and replaced it, but I was careful. I use a typical encrypted application to communicate and maintain multiple phones for different purposes. It was a nasty drag around them, and when I threw three phones into the scanner basket, I saw an interesting scene at the airport. Keeping them all charged is also a pain.
How has Mexico’s technological landscape changed over the years? Is there a lot of high-tech entrepreneurial activity?
There are many articles about Mexico’s booming tech sector, especially in guadalajara, a place recently given some silicon valley nickname. There are many start-ups, and tens of thousands of Mexican graduates come here every year.