Governments and Tech Giants Unite Against Commercial Spyware

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Dozens of countries have agreed to join forces with multinational tech companies to fight against spyware and human rights abuses in cyberspace.

The new joint agreement, called the Pall Mall Process, has been signed by the US, the UK, France and 22 other nations. Other signatories include the Gulf Cooperation Council and the African Union, along with academics and representatives from 14 business and tech companies.

Tech giants Google, Microsoft, Apple, Meta and BAE Systems have all joined the agreement.

Together, they vowed to tackle the proliferation and irresponsible use of commercial cyber intrusion tools and services, such as spyware.

First UK-France Cyber Proliferation Conference

The agreement was signed during the inaugural Cyber Proliferation conference, co-hosted in London by the UK and France on February 7.

The event gathered government representatives, big tech leaders, cybersecurity vendors, legal experts and human rights defenders to discuss the use of spyware and cyber intrusion tools and services.

During the event, the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) estimated that the commercial cyber intrusion sector doubles every ten years.

The declaration stated that "uncontrolled dissemination" of spyware offerings contributes to "unintentional escalation in cyberspace," noting it poses risks to cyber stability, human rights, national security and digital security.

Oliver Dowden, the British Deputy Prime Minister, commented during the Cyber Proliferation conference: "As the commercial market for these tools grows, so too will the number and severity of cyber-attacks compromising our devices and our digital systems, causing increasingly expensive damage and making it more challenging than ever for our cyber defenses to protect public institutions and services."

Greece and Cyprus Signed, Israel and Spain Didn’t

Some countries that have previously been linked with spyware development or use, including Ireland, Greece and Cyprus, are among the list of signatories.

However, there were nations that were notably absent including Israel, Hungary, Mexico, Spain and Thailand.

The event comes two days after an announcement by the US State Department to deny visas for individuals that it deems to be involved with the misuse of dangerous spyware technology.

Google, one of the Pall Mall Process signatories, released on February 6 a comprehensive report analyzing the commercial spyware vendor landscape.

Read more: US Cracks Down on Spyware with Visa Restrictions

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