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Aleksa Tešić

Belgrade, Serbia
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About Aleksa
Aleksa Tešić is an investigative journalist working for BIRN Serbia, covering mostly topics about surveillance, digital rights, technology in Serbia and Balkan region. He has worked on many stories regarding NSO Group, China's surveillance systems, EU privacy regulations and refugee monitoring. He is also working on climate, waste, infrastructure and technology topics. Based in Belgradel.
Investigative Journalism Fact Checking
Technology Fact Checking

Novak Tennis Center to Gain 30,000 New Square Meters

23 Aug 2022  |  BIRN
The Novak Tennis Center, owned by Srđan Đoković, father of tennis star Novak Đoković, has been using city tennis courts in Belgrade without a contract or rent payment for eight years, with tacit approval from the city. The company expanded the center illegally but later had these expansions legalized by the city, which now owes the company a difference in investment versus owed rent, initially assessed at 400,000 euros but reduced to 100,000 euros. A settlement is expected soon. Meanwhile, the city approved an initiative by the Novak Tennis Center to build a new sports complex, including a tennis stadium, hotel, and shops, on one of the city's most exclusive locations, expanding the center's area from 1.4 to 3.4 hectares and allowing the construction of 30,000 new square meters. The Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments has raised concerns about the impact on the cultural heritage of the Kalemegdan Fortress, but the city's planning commission has not accepted these concerns. The Novak Tennis Center has changed ownership from Family Sport to Tara 2016 S, owned by Novak and Jelena Đoković. Transparency Serbia has criticized the public bidding process for the tennis center's lease as rigged in favor of Tara 2016 S.

Encrypted Phones for EPS Paid Nearly 230,000 Euros

23 Aug 2022  |  BIRN
In late 2019, Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) acquired encryption programs for 20 mobile phones at a cost of 227,000 euros, or 26.7 million dinars, as revealed by tender documentation and contracts reviewed by BIRN. The procurement was awarded to two companies, IntellSec and Orbita Technologies, which were previously little known to the public but have significant business in the security sector. EPS refused to provide information on the reasons for the purchase and the users of the equipment, citing a business secrecy agreement. Experts consulted by BIRN indicated that the equipment is impenetrable and far more sophisticated than other applications like Sky ECC used by criminal groups. The article also discusses the potential misuse of such technology and the involvement of various companies and individuals in the procurement process.

MUP Plans to Purchase Facial Recognition Technology

23 Aug 2022  |  BIRN
The Serbian Ministry of Interior (MUP) plans to acquire forensic software from Griffeye, which includes facial recognition capabilities. The procurement has not yet been conducted, and MUP has not responded to inquiries about the purpose and intended use of the software. Concerns have been raised about the potential for privacy violations and the intrusive nature of the technology. The software can recognize faces based on eyes alone and even when eyes are not visible, such as when wearing sunglasses. It can also collect and process large amounts of personal data from the internet. SHARE Foundation representatives warn that once such technology is introduced, it is difficult to remove and poses irreversible privacy risks. The software's capabilities extend beyond facial recognition, including data mining from the internet and creating detailed profiles by cross-referencing digital information. Experts and privacy commissioners express concerns about the misuse of such technology and the lack of transparency in its application.

Israeli spyware increasingly present in Serbia

03 Mar 2022  |  BIRN
Israeli companies specializing in spyware are showing increased interest in the Serbian market, with evidence that Serbian authorities have acquired and are using at least two such programs. Facebook has blocked profiles of seven companies, including Cognyte Software and North Macedonia-based Cytrox, for using their programs to spy on journalists, opposition politicians, and activists. Cytrox, led by Ivo Malinkovski, has been implicated in surveillance activities in several countries, including Serbia. Other companies like Circles and Cyberbit Solutions have also been involved in the Serbian surveillance landscape. The industry, which is underregulated in Serbia, raises concerns about the potential for abuse of technology and the lack of legal frameworks to govern the production, circulation, and use of surveillance equipment.

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