You Need to Speak Up For Internet Security. Right Now.

AN ETHIOPIAN JOURNALIST living in the U.S. was spied on by his own government. A pro-democracy activist in Dubai was beaten repeatedly by thugs after his computer was infected with surveillance software. An American who criticized the Turkish government was monitored by officials there.

They are among thousands of people whose computers and mobile devices were infected with “surveillance software” made and sold to governments and law enforcement agencies by the recently-hacked Hacking Team. Such targeted surveillance can lead to beatings, imprisonment, torture and often death. It can also bring harm to the victim’s family and friends, and anyone who communicated with the victim online or over the phone.

Many people point to Hacking Team’s customer list, which includes Sudan and other oppressive regimes, in arguing that more regulations are needed to stem the proliferation and accumulation of digital weapons. Meanwhile, security experts warn that overzealous laws will stifle this vital security research that aids defense. Many also fear these regulations will put legitimate tech companies out of business due to excessive license application burdens and delays in the ability to sell security products and compete globally.

Can this type of specialized intrusion technology be reasonably controlled in terms of who has access to it? Can international agreements on export controls that were created to limit land-mines and nuclear bombs be applied successfully to digital warfare? Would these regulations really be able to curb human rights abuses?

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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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