Growing Coalition of Governments Join the U.S. In Countering the Proliferation and Misuse of Commercial Spyware


Today, at the third Summit for Democracy in Seoul, South Korea, Secretary Blinken announced that Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Poland, and the Republic of Korea have joined the Joint Statement on Efforts to Counter the Proliferation and Misuse of Commercial Spyware, launched by an inaugural group of 11 like-minded countries at the second Summit for Democracy. The Joint Statement collectively affirms the threat posed by the misuse of commercial spyware, and countries commit to working within their domestic systems to establish robust guardrails to counter the proliferation and misuse of this sophisticated surveillance technology.  

The United States’ flagship side event at the third Summit for Democracy, “Galvanizing Multi-Stakeholder Action to Combat the Misuse of Commercial Spyware,” highlighted the new Joint Statement countries and, for the first time, provided a platform for a victim of commercial spyware to share his experiences with ministers and other high-level participants from across the globe. The event also featured an investigative journalist and representatives from a technology company and the investor community.  

On March 19, the second day of the Summit, the Joint Statement countries will meet in person for the first time. It will be an opportunity to share best practices and lessons learned, and identify opportunities to most effectively counter the misuse of commercial spyware.  

At the second Summit for Democracy in March 2023, the United States announced key initial actions related to commercial spyware:   

Over the past year, the United States has implemented a government-wide approach to counter the proliferation and misuse of commercial spyware, including  

  • On March 7, 2024, the White House convened members of the investor community, for the first time, for a dialogue on responsible investment of trusted capital in a number of domains with national security implications, including commercial spyware, artificial intelligence, and cyber, among others. At this event, the investors announced a set of voluntary principles and commitments to guide investments in ways that promote the values of free and open societies; 
  • On March 5, 2024, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on five entities and two individuals involved with commercial spyware entities that pose a counterintelligence threat to U.S. Government personnel and have flouted calls for safeguards while continuing to enable human rights abuses. This is the first time that the U.S. Government has applied sanctions to actors involved in commercial spyware misuse;    
  • On February 5, 2024, the Department of State announced a new visa ban policy to block entry to the United States for individuals involved in or who profited from the misuse of commercial spyware; 

Taken together, these actions demonstrate U.S. leadership in countering the threats posed by the proliferation and misuse of commercial spyware and send a strong signal that those who misuse, or enable the misuse, of this technology will face consequences. 

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