US plans visa ban for people connected to commercial spyware

Advertisement

The US government has announced a new policy that will allow the imposition of visa restrictions on individuals involved in the misuse of commercial spyware. The misuse of commercial spyware has been linked to arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the most egregious of cases.

Additionally, the misuse of these tools presents a security and counter-intelligence threat to US personnel, the government said in a statement. The new policy covers investors and heads of companies, as well as those acting on behalf of governments that carry out illegal surveillance. The policy will be applied using the information in an individual’s visa application.

“This new policy is the most recent action in the US’ comprehensive approach to countering the misuse of commercial spyware. Previous actions have included the issuance of an Executive Order prohibiting the US government’s use of commercial spyware that poses risks to US’ national security or foreign policy interests,” said the US State Department.

Advertisement

The misuse of commercial spyware threatens privacy and freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, said the government. In March last year, the Joe Biden government via an executive order said that “it shall not make operational use of commercial spyware that poses significant counterintelligence or security risks to the US government or significant risks of improper use by a foreign government or foreign person.”