AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, Privacy International, US digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the German civil rights organisation Digitale Gesellschaft have released Detekt, a free software tool that scans computers for spyware known to be used by government intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance on journalists and human rights activists.
Amnesty International said that Detekt has been developed by security researchers as part of the EFF's Citizen Lab toolkit to help people protect against intrusive government surveillance.
Detekt is the first freely available software tool that enables activists and journalists to discover whether their electronic devices are being surreptitiously monitored by spyware without their knowledge.
Governments have increasingly been using sophisticated hardware and software to monitor human rights activists and journalists. Trade in such surveillance equipment and spyware is reportedly a £3bn a year market and growing.
Marek Marczynski of Amnesty International said: "Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists' and journalists' private emails and remotely turn on their computer's camera or microphone to secretly record their activities," according to The Guardian.
"They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed. Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action."
The human rights organisations want governments to set up trade controls over surveillance hardware and software similar to those applied to armaments.
Marczynski explained: "Detekt is a great tool which can help activists stay safe, but ultimately the only way to prevent these technologies from being used to violate or abuse human rights is to establish and enforce strict controls on their use and trade."
He added: "It represents a strike back against governments who are using information obtained through surveillance to arbitrarily detain, illegally arrest and even torture human rights defenders and journalists." µ
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