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The Fight To Uncover Spyware Exports To Repressive Regimes

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the virtual-arms-deals dept.

Security 36

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes with news that we may soon learn which countries were sold the FinFisher malware package to spy on their own citizens. "The UK's High Court ruled yesterday that HM Revenue and Customs acted 'unlawfully' when it declined to detail how it was investigating the export of digital spy tools created by a British company. Human rights group Privacy International is celebrating the decision of Mr. Justice Green, which means HMRC now has to reconsider releasing information on its investigation into controls surrounding the export of malware known as FinFisher, created by British supplier Gamma International. The widespread FinFisher malware family, also known as FinSpy, can carry out a range of surveillance operations, from snooping on Skype and Facebook conversations to siphoning off emails or files sitting on a device. It is supposed to benefit law enforcement in their investigations, but has allegedly been found in various nations with poor human rights records, including Bahrain and Ethiopia."

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A thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47000867)

What about spyware exports to allegedly non-repressive regimes? Are they "better"?

Re:A thought (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47000911)

i thought you slippery cunts would like to know i am about to take a great big SHIT

i hope it doesnt bend in half and clog the fucking toilet from both halves trying to go down at the same time. man that's irritating.

Re:A thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47006655)

What about spyware exports to allegedly non-repressive regimes? Are they "better"?

Or spyware exports to regimes that are getting more and more repressive every day because of their use of spyware on their own populations - like the UK & US?

If you support human rights abuses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47000889)

If you choose in the name of commerce to support human rights abuses in the name of profit (and the notion that someone else will) ... then you yourself should be able to be charged for human rights abuses.

None of this "I was just following orders/trying to make money" shit. You knowingly sold stuff to a government who is going to use it for things which are likely illegal in your own country.

You are now culpable for this. You should be subject to criminal and civil penalties, forfeiture of assets, and having your own ass dragged off in the night to be tortured. Because you've clearly decided to enable to same things to happen to others.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 6 months ago | (#47000949)

You should be subject to criminal and civil penalties, forfeiture of assets, and having your own ass dragged off in the night to be tortured. Because you've clearly decided to enable to same things to happen to others.

And now you're trying to have someone hauled off to be tortured, so you should be too. Oh shit, I'm doing the same thing!

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47001063)

And now you're trying to have someone hauled off to be tortured, so you should be too.

No, I'm saying that "just following orders" and "just trying to make a profit" don't absolve you from guilt.

If you help someone commit a crime, then guess what, you bear some of the guilt for it.

Since many of the regimes then go on to commit what are more or less either war crimes or what the UN terms "crimes against humanity", why should some profit seeking asshole have no responsibility?

Oh, wait, because people here believe that anything done in the name of corporate profit is a good thing.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 6 months ago | (#47001455)

You're also saying that two wrongs make a right, which is where you go off the rails and destroy your argument.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47001573)

You're also saying that two wrongs make a right, which is where you go off the rails and destroy your argument.

Really? So you're saying the entire basis of our legal system is based on the notion that two wrongs make a right and is therefore erroneous?

You're an idiot.

If you directly assist someone in kidnapping, you are guilty. If you directly assist someone in murder, you are guilty.

If you directly assist someone in the spying and eventual torture or death of someone at the hands of a government you knew would do that ... by your reasoning your magically excused?

I'm simply saying that if you assist someone in the commission of something which would be a crime where your business is based, assisting them to do the same thing in another country doesn't change a damned thing.

Companies who knowingly sell these things to countries they know will abuse it are not suddenly absolved of being culpable for the things their products have been designed for.

Selling this stuff to these regimes is little different than being an art dealer for the Nazis, or selling munitions to Iran -- you know it's causing harm, but you're profiting off it. As a result, you should be subject to legal recourse.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 6 months ago | (#47002627)

If you directly assist someone in kidnapping, you are guilty. If you directly assist someone in murder, you are guilty.

If you directly assist someone in the spying and eventual torture or death of someone at the hands of a government you knew would do that ... by your reasoning your magically excused?

I'm simply saying that if you assist someone in the commission of something which would be a crime where your business is based, assisting them to do the same thing in another country doesn't change a damned thing.

Companies who knowingly sell these things to countries they know will abuse it are not suddenly absolved of being culpable for the things their products have been designed for.

Selling this stuff to these regimes is little different than being an art dealer for the Nazis, or selling munitions to Iran -- you know it's causing harm, but you're profiting off it. As a result, you should be subject to legal recourse.

And if your name is similar to someone who *might* do something the government doesn't like, you're guilty.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 6 months ago | (#47004253)

Did I say anyone was excused?

No.

I said you were a piece of shit for saying people should be tortured. We're trying to be better than those we condemn. Don't fuck that up.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47002603)

You're also saying that two wrongs make a right, which is where you go off the rails and destroy your argument.

But three rights make a left, and two Wrights made an airplane.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47001071)

You should be subject to criminal and civil penalties, forfeiture of assets, and having your own ass dragged off in the night to be tortured. Because you've clearly decided to enable to same things to happen to others.

And now you're trying to have someone hauled off to be tortured, so you should be too. Oh shit, I'm doing the same thing!

some people will never understand the evil of their choices until they are on the receiving end of it themselves.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (1)

CurryCamel (2265886) | about 6 months ago | (#47002791)

None of this "I was just following orders/trying to make money" shit. You knowingly sold stuff to a government who is going to use it for things which are likely illegal in your own country.

So you argue that companies like say Ericsson or NSN should not sell mobile network equipment to e.g. the USA, as that government consistently uses the legal intercept possibilities of the equipment for the purpose of tracking down criminals they eventually kill (here in the civilized world, the death penalty is considered a human rights violation). While at the same time, it is completely OK for Huawei or Motorola to sell similar stuff, also to the USA?
If you really meant that, then I do salute your moral backbone. But I do hope you notced the slippery slope in your fanatic-sounding argumentation.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#47003983)

What does selling something to a potential (or probable) victim of a crime have to do with it?

Selling the hardware needed to perpetrate the crime to the U.S. government would be wrong though.

Re:If you support human rights abuses ... (1)

CurryCamel (2265886) | about 5 months ago | (#47015515)

The crime victim [sic] is not in this loop at all...
Any operator in the USA is required by law to yield lawful intercept requests from the government (i.e. police). Arguing here that the networks are not sold to the government, but independent busineses is just the sort of white-washing/denialism that GP was supposedly opposed to. Look e.g. at what happened with the NSN equipment in Iran a few yeas back... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_Solutions_and_Networks#Lawful_interception_controversy [wikipedia.org]

Glass Houses (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 6 months ago | (#47000917)

It is supposed to benefit law enforcement in their investigations, but has allegedly been found in various nations with poor human rights records, including Bahrain and Ethiopia.

So is it only a problem when repressive regimes use surveillance software to oppress their population? When first world nations use such software, they're also violating the rights of their citizens. Just because it "benefits law enforcement" doesn't excuse its existence. Parallel construction also benefits law enforcement.

Re:Glass Houses (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#47001073)

Exactly, total double standard. The difference between the two is only a slight matter of degree. And this is the country that created today's GCHQ that's expressing such outrage?

Re:Glass Houses (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#47001221)

by "repressive regimes" they meant all of them.

Re:Glass Houses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47001601)

It is supposed to benefit law enforcement in their investigations, but has allegedly been found in various nations with poor human rights records, including Bahrain and Ethiopia.

So is it only a problem when repressive regimes use surveillance software to oppress their population? When first world nations use such software, they're also violating the rights of their citizens. Just because it "benefits law enforcement" doesn't excuse its existence. Parallel construction also benefits law enforcement.

It's like the difference between surveillance in park A being used to identify people spraying graffiti AND ARRESTING THEM vs. surveillance in park B being used to identify people criticizing public officials AND ARRESTING THEM.

Why people focus on the surveillance activities as some evil greater than the actual abuses of authority, or treating it as if it's _causative_ continues to blow my mind.

Protip: s/surveillance software/guns/g
You're pointing your finger at the wrong thing.

Re:Glass Houses (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about 6 months ago | (#47001783)

It's like the difference between surveillance in park A being used to identify people spraying graffiti AND ARRESTING THEM vs. surveillance in park B being used to identify people criticizing public officials AND ARRESTING THEM.

Have any relevant analogies to make, because that isn't one.

Why people focus on the surveillance activities as some evil greater than the actual abuses of authority

Why have you missed out on "parallel construction"? It's when the government takes information illegally gained and launders it into a successful prosecution. Which is...wait for it...abuse of authority.

Re:Glass Houses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47001943)

Why have you missed out on "parallel construction"? It's when the government takes information illegally gained and launders it into a successful prosecution. Which is...wait for it...abuse of authority.

And bordering on perjury. And violating your rights. And skipping by the whole need for a warrant. It's basically saying "the end justifies the means".

It also involves denying you the right to see the evidence against you, and generally fabricating a case that they couldn't have pursued through legal means.

Parallel Construction is the point at which the government will do anything they wish to throw you in jail if they so desire. Any government which is doing this has tipped over into being an enemy of the people, and any court system which allows it has become a farce.

We do it to, so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47001029)

The US spies on its own citizens too. Does the OP mean to imply that these kinds of products should not be sold to the US govt or US companies?

repressive regime, ha (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#47001053)

Many here consider the UK an oppressive regime

Re:repressive regime, ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47002063)

Aye, and they'd be right. USA is worse tho. I wonder if UK is exporting spyware to the US?

Re:repressive regime, ha (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#47002739)

I think the UK tests oppressive tactics before being deployed in the USA, kind of like oppression beta version test site.

Re:repressive regime, ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47006675)

Isn't secret killing of innocent civilians based on secret rulings by a secret process authorized by a secret court "oppressive"?

Re:repressive regime, ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47006743)

Isn't secret killing of innocent civilians based on secret rulings by a secret process authorized by a secret court "oppressive"?

I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Re:repressive regime, ha (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#47008829)

sure, but the UK first did cruder approximations, e.g. chasing after electrician on his commute to work, knocking him down, and shooting him in the head

Only 500 more days left on earth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47001091)

And you are talking about this nonsense!

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/french-foreign-minister-500-days-avoid-climate-chaos_792736.html

"And we have – as I said, we have 500 days to avoid climate chaos. And I know that President Obama and John Kerry himself are committed on this subject and I’m sure that with them, with a lot of other friends, we shall be able to reach success on this very important matter."

Come on you assholes.

this is a senseless investigation. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 6 months ago | (#47001503)

Britain and to a larger extent the United States both work hard to prop up repressive regimes they find benefitial to their interests. Somalia, Libya, hell even North Korea has received funds from the british taxpayer since 2012. To think that anyone in parliament gives two shits about some spyware is sadly wrong.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... [dailymail.co.uk]

Spyware is a weapon (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | about 6 months ago | (#47002353)

Spyware such as FinFisher is a weapon and should be treated as such under the same export restrictions most western countries apply to guns, warplanes, ships, etc. The trick would be in differentiating the covert tracking, surveillance and reporting that something like FinFisher does for nefarious purposes from the "normal" covert tracking, surveillance and reporting that many smart phone apps do for commercial purposes.

Cheers,
Dave

Re:Spyware is a weapon (1)

causality (777677) | about 6 months ago | (#47002775)

The trick would be in differentiating the covert tracking, surveillance and reporting that something like FinFisher does for nefarious purposes from the "normal" covert tracking, surveillance and reporting that many smart phone apps do for commercial purposes.

That trick is at least as unnecessary as it is difficult.

Britian and USA too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47002845)

When the summary says:

"but has allegedly been found in various nations with poor human rights records, including Bahrain and Ethiopia."

Souldn't the USA and Britian be included on this list since we know they spy on their citizens too?

Serious question (1)

kalayq (827594) | about 6 months ago | (#47006031)

Why don't Facebook and Skype (Microsoft) take these companies to court? Why won't the UK government?
These companies are making money off of a tool specifically made to break the law and most likely used to spy on some British citizens (abroad).

Re:Serious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47016983)

Because it's not in their intrest to do that? They don't care, the laws are just toiletpaper....

Finland mentioned! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47006857)

Suomi mainittu, torilla TAVATAAN!

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