Elected Officials Will Investigate the US Government’s Use of Spyware Technology
The United States government’s recent purchase of spyware from two Israeli hacking firms has worried several members of Congress. Ken Macon of Reclaim the Net noted that Congress has been devising plans to regulate the use of hacking software.
California Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, discovered that the Drug Enforcement Administration obtained Graphite, a spyware tool. In response, Schiff sent a letter to the DEA to inform it that there could be consequences with respect to the spyware’s usage in the case that the agency uses the software outside of the boundaries set by the law.
Schiff’s letter can be found here.
In the past, the DEA has defended its usage of Graphite by noting that it was used for foreign missions and not for internal operations within the US.
Graphite and Pegasus are among the most prominent spyware tools that Israeli hacking firms have built. In order to prevent Israeli firms from providing spyware to foreign governments, the Israeli government passed a decree that required all firms to possess an export license.
In order to circumvent this regulation, various Israeli forms have tried to relocate their operations outside of Israel. Tal Dilian, an Israeli entrepreneur, was able to successfully move his business into Cyprus and Greece. Dilian’s hacking instrument is Predator, whose usage caused the aforementioned countries to suspect that the Israeli government was carrying out espionage on their citizens.
While Israel has made efforts to stem the exports of Israeli spyware, there are still other countries that illegally get their hands on hacking tools via Israeli agencies such as NSO.
The FBI previously acquired NSO’s Pegasus, which several governments have used to target individuals who criticize their respective governments, potentially for the purpose of conducting criminal investigations. However, it was revealed in a government legal brief that the FBI director ended up opposing the use of any hacking tools.
In 2021, the Biden regime blacklisted NSO. In effect, no American corporation was legally allowed to enter in business relations with it. On top of that, Congress passed a bill that grants the director of national intelligence the power to ban the US Intelligence Community from obtaining spyware from foreign countries. For security purposes, the director must determine and surveil all foreign spyware firms and submit a list of these firms to Congress on an annual basis.
Technology is a value neutral tool. It can be used for good and ill. However, in the hands of governments and other nefarious actors, technology can cause great harm. For that reason, elected officials must vet the manner in which the US’s vast labyrinth of unaccountable bureaucracies use said technology.
Such technology should not belong in the hands of alphabet agencies like the CIA and FBI, nor sketchy strategic partners such as Israel.