US to Adopt New Restrictions on Using Commercial Spyware

Logo U.S. News & World ReportU.S. News & World Report
2023-03-27 16:03:17  • 5 mins

WASHINGTON (AP) The U.S. government will restrict its use of commercial spyware tools that have been used to surveil human rights activists, journalists and dissidents around the world, under an executive order issued Monday by President Joe Biden.

The order responds to growing U.S. and global concerns about programs that can capture text messages and other cellphone data. Some programs so-called zero-click exploits can infect a phone without the user clicking on a malicious link.

Governments around the world including the U.S. are known to collect large amounts of data for intelligence and law enforcement purposes, including communications from their own citizens. The proliferation of commercial spyware has made powerful tools newly available to smaller countries, but also created what researchers and human-rights activists warn are opportunities for abuse and repression.

The White House released the executive order in advance of its second summit for democracy this week. The order demonstrates the United States' leadership in, and commitment to, advancing technology for democracy, including by countering the misuse of commercial spyware and other surveillance technology, the White House said in a statement.

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