The US announces a global visa crackdown on those involved in the misuse of commercial spyware.
The latest round of restrictions will target major allies like Israel, India, Jordan, and Hungary.
The new policy of the Biden administration aims to restrict the use of such spyware because it threatens national security and paves way for human rights abuses.
Use of Spyware Linked To Abuses
US Secretery of State Antony Blinken linked spyware misuse to “arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.”
While not specifying, this may refer to cases like the hacking of Jamal Khashoggi’s associates before he was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
The technology has been used by governments against hundreds of political dissidents, lawyers, human rights advocates, and journalists across the world.
Restrictions Are Global
The visa restrictions extend globally, impacting even countries with visa-free entry, signaling risks associated with the spyware industry.
The move follows the placement of Israel’s NSO Group on a commerce department blacklist three years ago.
Over 50 US government personnel have been targeted by spyware in recent years, prompting executive level scrutiny.