Britain, France and the US have signed a declaration at a conference in London along with 32 other nations, to tackle malicious use of cyber spying tools. Tech firms Google, Meta and Microsoft have also joined in, ET Telecom reported.
The report says that with an eye on the rapidly growing market for spyware, the declaration raises concern over the possible impact on national security and human rights and expands the “potential pool of state and non-state actors” with access to spying tools.
It called on signatories to use the tools in a legal and responsible manner, use them with precision, introduce more oversight and create more transparency with commercial spyware vendors. Not placing stricter controls on such software, the report said, increased the risk of bad faith actors carrying out espionage activity.
Spyware tools can be used by hackers for hire who carry out mercenary hacking campaigns on behalf of commercial clients.
Spyware firms often say their products are meant for use by governments for national security, but the technology has been used to hack into the phones of civil society, political opposition and journalists. The industry has faced increasing scrutiny after the Israeli firm NSO’s Pegasus spyware was found on the phones of various people globally, including human rights defenders.
The US has already issued a new visa restriction policy for those it said were misusing commercial spyware.