• The Guardian

Experts Warn that Spyware Presents Significant Threat to Human Rights and Democracy

August 9, 2022

[Image Credit: Blair Gable/Reuters]

Cited article by Leyland Cecco, The Guardian


HRRC urges Canada to evaluate the use of its spyware software and develop clear guidelines and policies on the spyware's use for investigations. Mercenary groups developing spyware present a clear danger to human rights, and this must be addressed as well. As these technologies are developed, laws must also form to hold accountable those using spyware technology to ensure abuses are not committed.


Article Summary


Experts are describing the rise of the mercenary spyware industry as “one of the greatest contemporary threats to civil society, human rights and democracy”. Ron Diepert, a professor at the University of Toronto and head of Citizen Lab, says that software being used by law enforcement agencies and autocratic regimes could be described as a "wiretap on steroids" if they are utilized with minimal oversight.


In June, Canada's federal police admitted to using spyware in investigations between 2018-2020 that allowed them to access text messages, emails, photos, videos, audio files, calendar entries, and financial records, as well as activating the camera and microphone of the device. The Pegasus software has also been a point of concern, which was developed by the NSO group and targeted journalists and activists. Diepert is calling for Canada to develop clear guidelines on the use of these technologies to ensure that they are not misused by government agencies.