(VitalNews.org) – The Biden administration is “astounded” by the number of government officials and federal agents who have been targeted with spyware, according to The Daily Wire. The phones of 50 federal employees are suspected of being the subject of hacking attempts in 10 foreign countries across all different continents. The employees are reportedly senior officials.
The news comes as the White House recently announced an executive order that would ban the government from using commercial spyware, according to The Washington Post. The order follows the concerns that Pegasus, a spyware, was used by foreign governments to hack the devices of journalists and activists globally.
In December 2021, Apple reportedly alerted 11 employees at the U.S. Embassy in Uganda that the Pegasus spyware had hacked their phones. The United States and other governments worldwide have purchased this commercial spyware to get into devices for their data.
Biden’s executive order reportedly lists the steps that will be taken to combat these efforts, including canceling contracts that pose threats to national security. According to The Wall Street Journal, an Israeli technology firm, NSO, had admitted that its customers misused its tech tools to hack. They then admitted that they only allow law enforcement to use their technology in that way to prevent or look into crimes.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress in 2022 that while the agency purchased Pegasus, they did not use the NSO products in any investigation.
The Biden administration has been given praise for taking action against these spyware threats. Matthew Duss, who once worked with Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders as a foreign policy advisor, said that while Biden has not targeted human rights abuses, he has been strong on these tools that put the country at risk.
The executive order came before the second “Summit for Democracy,” which involves leaders worldwide.
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