Amnesty report shines spotlight on alleged cyber-surveillance using European-made tool

Amnesty report shines spotlight on alleged cyber-surveillance using European-made tool

Journalists, politicians, civil society groups and academics across Europe, the US and Asia have allegedly been targeted with a cyber-surveillance weapon developed by a group of European companies, according to human rights campaigners.

The allegations about the widespread use of the Predator software have emerged in an investigation by Amnesty International in partnership with the European Investigative Collaborations and backed by additional in-depth reporting by Mediapart and Der Spiegel.

In the report, The Predator Files: Caught in the Net, Amnesty’s security lab says targets of Predator have included UN officials, a senator and congressman in the USA and even the presidents of the European Parliament and Taiwan.

Predator was developed and sold by the Intellexa alliance. According to Amnesty, this alliance, which has advertised itself as “EU-based and regulated”, is a complex and often changing group of companies that develops and sells surveillance products, including the Predator spyware.

Between February and June this year, Twitter and Facebook were used to publicly target at least 50 accounts belonging to 27 individuals and 23 institutions, according to the report.

Agnès Callamard, secretary general at Amnesty International, said: “Yet again, we have evidence of powerful surveillance tools being used in brazen attacks. The targets this time around are journalists in exile, public figures and intergovernmental officials. But let’s make no mistake: the victims are all of us, our societies, good governance and everyone’s human rights.

“The Intellexa alliance, European-based developers of Predator and other surveillance products have done nothing to limit who is able to use this spyware and for what purpose.

“Instead, they are lining their pockets and ignoring the serious human rights implications at stake. In the wake of this latest scandal, surely the only effective response is for states to impose an immediate worldwide ban on highly invasive spyware.”

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