The United States has enacted visa restrictions for individuals implicated in the misuse of spyware technology

Authorities in the United States have announced visa restrictions for individuals involved in the misuse of commercial spyware.

According to a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the State Department is implementing a new visa policy to allow the imposition of visa restrictions on those engaged in such activities.

The Biden administration has taken several measures to address the misuse of commercial spyware. Last year, an executive order was signed banning federal agencies from using commercial spyware that poses risks to US national security or foreign policy interests.

The United States remains concerned about the increasing misuse of commercial spyware globally, which is used to facilitate repression, curb the free flow of information, and perpetrate human rights abuses. This misuse threatens privacy, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.

According to Secretary Blinken, such targeting has been linked to arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings in the most severe cases.

The US Department emphasized that the misuse of these tools poses a security and counterintelligence threat to US personnel. It reiterated the US commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and pledged to promote accountability for those involved in the misuse of commercial spyware.

The widespread use of commercial spyware has raised concerns among US authorities. Technologies developed by companies like NSO Group, Intellexa, and Cytrox have been implicated in human rights abuses worldwide, according to a report from Cyberscoop.

A senior administration official revealed that at least 50 US government employees are targeted by such espionage tools worldwide.

Recently, Human Rights Watch reported that two of its employees in Jordan were targeted by Pegasus, a surveillance tool sold by Israel’s NSO Group.

The extensive targeting of numerous activists and journalists based in Jordan serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to protect digital rights and privacy. Governments will continue to abuse surveillance technology until global norms and regulations are established to safeguard human rights in the digital age.

According to Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, the targeting, which violates the right to privacy, began in October 2022 and briefly succeeded in infecting one of their mobile phones.

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