US offering spyware to other countries? Uncle Sam confirms it's saying nothing

vtqhtr413

Level 26
Thread author
Well-known
Aug 17, 2017
1,572
The US International Trade Administration (ITA) has admitted it promotes the sale of American-approved commercial spyware to foreign governments, and won't answer questions about it, according to US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Wyden, in a letter to US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, has demanded answers about the surveillance and policing tech that ITA – a US government agency – pushes to other countries. And he wants the agency to name names when it comes to which companies' spyware is being promoted with US tax dollars.

ITA is housed within the US Commerce Department and tasked with promoting American exports. Wyden chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which has responsibility for international trade policy, and he's not happy. The senator first requested info from ITA about promoting spyware abroad in May 2022. At that time, the agency confirmed it had promoted this type of technology, but it didn't answer questions about which products it endorsed and in which markets.

Both of these things are problematic. Commercial spyware has historically been used to target activists, journalists, and political dissidents, and when it ends up in the hands of authoritarian regimes, these people can end up dead. In March, the agency told Wyden's office that it had a new policy to restrict the promotion of these types of products in the works — but ITA refused to share that policy without a formal request.

Wyden didn't hesitate. In a letter [PDF] on Friday, he asked the agency to see the policy, and also demanded that ITA provide a ton of details about the surveillance technology companies it works with, and how it makes decisions about which businesses to assist."As you know, the Biden administration has recognized that surveillance technologies are frequently used by governments to invade the privacy of their citizens, enable violence and discrimination, and disproportionately harm marginalized and vulnerable communities," Wyden wrote.
 

Zero Knowledge

Level 20
Verified
Top Poster
Content Creator
Dec 2, 2016
845
...yet, US law enforcement(among many others, probably us too) are still buying stuff from Israeli companies for exactly this purpose
Probably. I imagine they have had meetings about buying spyware, in NSO's case they did but whether they have followed through and bought it is another matter. But and it's a big BUT they have the constitution which strictly forbids illegal search and seizure and the 5th amendment which gives you a constitutional right not to incriminate yourself.

In previous operations against encrypted criminal phones, they helped other nations collect and use the data to arrest and prosecute people but didn't use it to prosecute or arrest USA citizens using the phones because of the problems with the constitution.

Now non-USA nations involved in such operations most likely did collect information on USA citizens and more than likely did pass that juicy info on to the Americans. It's called parallel construction and all law and intel agencies use the tactic in every developed western democracy. That side steps USA laws and I imagine that intel is used to its full extent in future operations, but the origin of the data is never released.
 

Zero Knowledge

Level 20
Verified
Top Poster
Content Creator
Dec 2, 2016
845
No doubt 5 Eyes'(and others) membership helps...

...afterall, the UK has basically imprisoned Julian Assange for the best part of twenty years for the US.
Agreed on Assange. But it was inevitable that he would end up prison or dead. Even The Pirate Bay guys thought he was too dangerous and would end up dead when he hosted Wikileaks on PRQ.

I think if he survives, he will end up doing a few years in an Australian prison then released never to be heard from again. I doubt he will ever go back to the Wikileaks part of his life since he has a wife and two children. Personally, I'm agnostic towards him, I supported him when they tried to extradite him to Sweeden (which would mean extradition to USA) but then he lost the plot and became obnoxious and weird while in the embassy. Now he is a 'broken man' or 'has been broken' by the last 13 years with bad health and terrible mental health and if nothing is done will die.

I think the USA government have won, leak like Assange and end up like him. No one wants that.
 
Last edited:

vtqhtr413

Level 26
Thread author
Well-known
Aug 17, 2017
1,572
The US government banned the use of NSO’s Pegasus spyware 18 months ago, but a new report today says that at least one government agency is using very similar malware from a rival company: Paragon Graphite. This malware reportedly has the same capabilities as Pegasus, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is said to be using it …
 

About us

  • MalwareTips is a community-driven platform providing the latest information and resources on malware and cyber threats. Our team of experienced professionals and passionate volunteers work to keep the internet safe and secure. We provide accurate, up-to-date information and strive to build a strong and supportive community dedicated to cybersecurity.

User Menu

Follow us

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to know first about the latest cybersecurity incidents and malware threats.

Top