Government Use Of Risky Commercial Spyware Banned In US

President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order that prohibits the operational use by the U.S. Government of commercial spyware that poses risks to national security or has been misused by foreign actors to enable human rights abuses around the world.

Commercial spyware has proliferated in recent years with few controls and high risk of abuse. Sophisticated and invasive cyber surveillance tools are sold by vendors to access electronic devices remotely, extract their content, and manipulate their components, all without the knowledge or consent of the devices’ users.

The proliferation of commercial spyware poses distinct and growing counterintelligence and security risks to the United States, including to the safety and security of U.S. Government personnel and their families. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been targeted by commercial spyware, and untrustworthy commercial vendors and tools can present significant risks to the security and integrity of U.S. Government information and information systems.

The Executive Order applies to U.S. federal government departments and agencies, including those engaged in law enforcement, defense, or intelligence activities, and encompasses spyware tools furnished by foreign or domestic commercial entities.

This Executive Order will serve as a cornerstone U.S. initiative during the second Summit for Democracy, to be held on March 29 and 30.

President Biden will co-host the summit with the leaders of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Zambia.

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