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The Washington Post: Democracies’ flirtation with spyware raises stakes

The Washington Post wrote on its editorial Today that if the United States hopes to stop the misuse of spyware by governments around the world, it must monitor its behavior as well.

This is what makes a New York Times report suggesting that the FBI came close to using one of the world’s most controversial and troubling hacking tools, the Pegasus spyware. Developed by the Israeli company NSO Group.

The disclosure casts doubt on assurances FBI Director Christopher Wray made to lawmakers last year, when he claimed his agency bought the technology only for research and development “so it could see how bad guys can use it, for example.”

She added that the real story seems more disturbing, as the documents revealed indicate the possibility that officials believe that Pegasus could play a role in criminal investigations.

The newspaper considered the FBI’s decision not to proceed with its plans somewhat reassuring, noting that the decision came after its investigations revealed how authoritarian regimes and democracies alike exploited Pegasus technology to intrude on their citizens.

The newspaper believes that with the leap in technology and its capabilities that exceed legal standards and restrictions, the task of the United States and other democratic countries is to ensure that third-party spyware is purchased and used in a way that avoids undermining civil liberties around the world, not to mention endangering their national security.

Although the way to do this will not always be easy or obvious, it is necessary.

She stated that even with all the required protections in place, the United States would do well to weigh how much it really benefits from buying spyware from abroad.

Doing so, she said, risks legitimizing an industry that is pushing the world as a whole into an era of absolute surveillance, explaining that before US law enforcement authorities can think about how they buy and use spyware, they should consider whether they or any other country should.

Source: Aljazeera

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