Surveillance

Spyware Helps Repressive Regimes Track Activists

Manufacturers say they sell only to government agencies. Isn't that the problem?

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Following on the heels of last month's first-ever public analysis of the elusive spyware FinSpy, security researchers at Citizen Lab have released an analysis of samples that appear to be FinSpy Mobile, the smartphone component in the FinFisher toolkit. As with last month's analysis, Bloomberg has published an early report summarizing the technical analysis and describing responses from the companies in question.

The FinFisher suite is developed by the UK-based Gamma Group, which faces troubling questions about its use by repressive regimes around the world. EFF has called for companies that produce surveillance technology for use by governments and law enforcement agencies to adopt "Know Your Customer" standards, like those required by Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other export regulations, in order to avoid becoming "repression's little helper." An EFF white paper from April of this year, "Human Rights and Technology Sales," addresses this issue in detail.