A new tool to enable journalists and human rights defenders to scan their computers for known surveillance spyware has been released Thursday by Amnesty International and a coalition of human rights and technology organizations.
Detekt is the first tool to be made available to the public that detects major known surveillance spyware, some of which is used in computers by governments, Amnesty said in a statement.
“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. They use the technology in a cowardly attempt to prevent abuses from being exposed,” said Marek Marczynski, head of military, security and police at Amnesty International.
“Detekt is a simple tool that will alert activists to such intrusions so they can take action. 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.”
Amnesty pointed out that the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports, of which Amnesty International is a member, estimates the annual global trade in surveillance technologies to be worth US$5 billion and growing.
“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," said Marczynski.
"Amnesty will use its networks to help activists across the world learn about Detekt and scan their devices for signs of spyware," according to the statement.
" It will also engage in testing with its local partners and networks who are considered at high-risk of being targeted by such spyware."