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The Politician Fighting The Spyware Industry

Outgoing Dutch member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake tells us why spyware is as dangerous as an AK-47, but regulated less.

by MOTHERBOARD STAFF
Jun 7 2019, 2:45pm

In an era where some politicians are woefully unaware of cybersecurity issues and the internet in general, outgoing Dutch member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake has made a name for herself within the infosec community as a lawmaker who understands.

A known surveillance hawk and critic of Russian disinformation campaigns, Schaake—who will depart from her job at the end of this parliamentary term on July 1—has been a leading governmental voice scrutinizing the murky and unregulated world of spyware sales.

On the heels of the assassination of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi (who was reportedly the target of NSO Group spyware wielded by Saudi intelligence), in a recent column written for the Financial Times Schaake describes what she sees as a growing international crisis.

“It has become far too easy for commercial surveillance companies to sell the kinds of technologies that were long confined exclusively to the use of state intelligence or police services,” she wrote.

Schaake then went further, naming and shaming malicious companies.

“The NSO Group claims it has a policy of only selling to governments and law enforcement, to fight crime and terrorism. Novalpina Capital, the private equity fund that backs the group, has promised to bring it in line with UN human rights rules. But it should not be up to the butcher to test his own meat,” she said.

On this week’s CYBER, Schaake sat down with host Ben Makuch to discuss the future of cyberweapons, how governmental regulation on spyware should mirror the conventional arms industry and how Brexit might make Britain a haven for commercial surveillance companies.

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