A joint statement released by the US, Australia, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland on Thursday stated that they would stop the distribution and misuse of commercial spyware such as NSO Group’s Pegasus or Intellexa’s Predator. According to the statement, the misuse of such spy programs poses a significant and growing risk to national security, including the security of government personnel, information, and information systems.
However, Germany is not among the first countries to sign the anti-spyware statement drafted by the White House. In the coalition agreement, the traffic light government alliance aims to raise the intervention thresholds for the use of state and commercial surveillance software, maintain existing powers, and observe the guidelines of the Federal Constitutional Court for secret online searches. The state also plans to close any security gaps in the vulnerability management system.
The implementation of the project for “vulnerability management” from the coalition agreement is still being prepared, according to a spokeswoman for the interior department. The comprehensive protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms is particularly important for German foreign policy, both in the analog and digital world, according to the German Foreign Ministry.
The misuse of these spywares often involves “suppressing dissent, restricting the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly or association, enabling human rights violations and abuses, or the suppression of civil liberties, or to pursue or target individuals without proper legal authorization, protection, or oversight gain weight,” according to the joint statement.
US President Joe Biden issued an order to restrict the operational use of Pegasus & Co. by US authorities a few days earlier. However, this does not apply to national secret services such as the CIA and the NSA and also contains some other exceptions. The order is intended to prevent the misuse of surveillance technologies by governments for human rights violations.