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U.S. Implements New Visa Restrictions to Combat Commercial Spyware Abuse

The U.S. has introduced a new visa restriction policy targeting individuals implicated in the misuse of commercial spyware. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that these restrictions would apply to those involved in, facilitating, or benefiting from the abuse of such technology.

Counter-espionage efforts: This move is part of a broader initiative to deter foreign governments and companies engaged in harmful digital espionage, often aimed at human rights activists, journalists, and political dissidents in developing countries. The policy extends to investors and operators of commercial spyware platforms, addressing concerns raised by the targeting of at least 50 U.S. officials by private hacking tools.

President Joe Biden previously signed an executive order to mitigate the harmful use of digital spy tools targeting U.S. personnel and civil society, including barring U.S. agencies from engaging with companies associated with such activities. The Commerce Department further reinforced this stance by adding several surveillance firms to its economic trade blacklist in 2021 and 2023, among them Cytrox, Intellexa, NSO Group, and Candiru.

Broader implications: Structured under the existing Immigration and National Act, the policy covers a wide array of individuals linked to operations surveilling, harassing, or intimidating journalists, activists, perceived dissidents, marginalized or vulnerable groups, and their families. This comprehensive approach reflects the U.S. government’s commitment to combating the misuse of spyware and its associated threats to privacy and human rights.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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