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Written by Hitachi Systems Security on 28 March 2023

Biden executive order on commercial spyware for federal agencies

On Monday, March 28, President Biden signed an executive order on the use of commercial spyware by federal agencies, both domestic and foreign made. This date coincides with the Summit for Democracy 2023, which starts on March 28 and during which the issue of surveillance technologies will be discussed.

The executive order aims to control and regulate their use after a series of global scandals where these tools and solutions have been used against journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, but also elected political institutions around the world. The commercial spyware and surveillance technology industry was booming until recent revelations exposed abuses such as NSO Group, or team Jorge.

This directive clarifies restrictions on former federal intelligence officials who would consider working for foreign companies developing or selling commercial spyware. On the other hand, the order does not prohibit federal agencies from developing or using spyware but is intended to establish a framework and set standards, including for contracting. For the record, many federal agencies use commercial spyware and surveillance tools to perform their daily tasks.

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