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U.K. Imposes Export Restrictions on Spyware Used by Authoritarian Regimes

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, September 14 2012

The U.K. has imposed export restrictions on FinSpy, a surveillance tool that can "remotely take over computers and phones," reports Bloomberg. Privacy International, a British NGO, filed a letter of complaint in June, urging the government to enforce the law with restrictions on sales to repressive regimes like Turkmenistan, where it is used to spy on ordinary citizens via their computers and mobile phones.

Last month the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs published a comprehensive survey of the regimes that purchase FinSpy, and how they use it to keep their populations under surveillance. This has been particularly damaging to anti-regime activists, of course, most prominently in places like Egypt, Bahrain and Syria.

In fact, reports Bloomberg, "Gamma [which produces and markets FinSpy] first came under scrutiny after a sales pitch made to Egyptian state security was uncovered following that country’s February 2011 revolution.