Geneva - Israel’s use of commercial spyware is creating a toxic atmosphere where people fear that speaking their minds would render them targets to these malicious tools, said Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor in a letter to the European Union Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.
Euro-Med Monitor called for banning the import and use of commercial spyware by EU member states, considering the mounting evidence of misuse and abuse.
The organisation cited recent reports indicating the use of commercial spyware by governments to target and monitor individuals, including journalists, human rights defenders, and political leaders.
The use of Israeli spyware, in particular, has been a cause for concern, with reports indicating the abuse of the spyware technology having led to a chilling effect on free speech and political activity in many countries, undermining the ability of citizens to express themselves and engage in democratic processes.
The letter named Israel’s latest scandal-ridden company, QuaDream, whose technology has been used by governments to target dissidents, activists, and other critical individuals.
“We fear that such dangerous, unconstrained, and unethical spyware technology is creating a new normal around the world, where the right to privacy is violated into virtual obsolescence,” said Ramy Abdu, chairman of Euro-Med Monitor.
“The continued use of commercial spyware is creating a toxic atmosphere where people fear that standing up for their principles, fighting oppression or exercising their basic democratic rights would render them targets to these malicious tools.”
“In light of these concerns, we urge the EU Commission to take immediate action to ban the import and use of commercial spyware. Especially now that the US President has set a precedent in this regard by banning federal agencies from using commercial spyware,” Euro-Med Monitor argued.
“Such a ban would send a clear message that the EU is committed to protecting human rights and democratic values and that it will not tolerate the misuse of technology to suppress dissent and undermine democracy.”
Euro-Med Monitor urged the EU to open an independent investigation on the potential misuse of spyware by its member states and to hold accountable those responsible for such violations.
The organisation called on the EU to live up to its purported principles of protecting human rights and promoting democracy around the world.