President Biden Signs Executive Order Restricting U.S. Government Use of Commercial Spyware

March 27, 2023

Today, President Biden signed an executive order restricting the use of commercial spyware by the U.S. government. The executive order prohibits the operational use of commercial spyware if the government determines that the spyware poses “significant counterintelligence or security risks” to the U.S. government or if it poses “significant risks of improper use by a foreign government or foreign person.” Although the executive order does not ban the use of commercial spyware, it does require agencies to conduct due diligence based on a set of criteria and certify that any operational sue of commercial spyware does not pose such a risk. 

Earlier this year, EPIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI seeking information about its connections to NSO Group and use of Pegasus spyware. The spyware has reportedly been used to target thousands of people and has been used to spy on French President Emmanuel Macron, Dubai’s Princess Latifa, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and many other prominent activists, academics, journalists. EPIC’s Project on Surveillance Oversight has long advocated against surveillance of digital devices.     

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