Abusive Spyware Ban: No Press Freedom Without Journalist Safety

Rand Hammoud is a Surveillance Campaigner at Access Now. Shutterstock Spyware is one of the most substantial digital threats to freedom of the press globally. Discussions around regulating or limiting its sale have not translated into enough concrete action, as its proliferation continues under democratic and authoritarian governments alike. Meanwhile, evidence of the abuses of certain technologies and the negligence of surveillance tech vendors continues to pile up. Yet, as we continue to see illegal hacking exposed — often by the targeted journalists themselves — suppliers keep putting their profit margins first, and continue to sell to dictators and others who have a long standing record of human rights abuses. Research by groups such as the Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, Access Now, and other civil society organizations has documented the abuse certain commercial spyware companies are enabling, demonstrating that they cannot be trusted to employ this technology while upholding human rights under international law. The spyware sold by these companies is unsafe in any hands. Private actors cannot be left to their own devices with insufficient human rights policies and opaque ethics boards that fail us all. There is simply no other option — we must ban the abusive spyware companies and their technologies to ensure they can no longer profit from human rights abuse. Every year on May 3, World Press Freedom Day, the international community, media organizations, civil society, and people from all walks of life celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate freedom of expression across…Abusive Spyware Ban: No Press Freedom Without Journalist Safety