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EU – Pretador, the spyware under scrutiny

What is Predator?

It is highly invasive mobile spyware, “which can be delivered to devices using either 1-click attacks or 0-click attacks. The Intellexa alliance also offers various techniques to install the spyware through “tactical attacks,” which enable the targeting of devices in close physical proximity. In addition, strategic infection methods have also been developed, operated, and marketed by the Intellexa alliance. These methods allow a state actor to deliver silent infection attempts to users of cooperating internet service providers or across a country if the spyware operator has direct access to internet traffic. Strategic infection systems resemble mass surveillance tools, requiring access to large-scale internet traffic to target and infect individuals.

The mass and “massive” surveillance products offered by the Intellexa alliance suggest an evolution of earlier surveillance technologies from lawful interception systems that allowed traffic monitoring in a targeted, individualised manner – that potentially allowed for more checks and limitations – to more overbroad and indiscriminate methods”.

And export control in all that?

“Exports of spyware from the EU are subject to licensing under the Dual-Use Export Regulation, which should, in theory, account for human rights risks posed by such exports. The “Predator Files” disclosures, however, demonstrate that export licenses for surveillance technologies were granted by member states when there was a substantial risk of human rights violations by the end users. Disclosures also show that EU export control regulations were circumvented through opaque corporate structures and entities in third countries.

The EU Dual-Use Export Regulation has significant shortcomings. Two years after the publication of the Recast Dual Use regulation, it has not been robustly and transparently implemented. (…)

The Predator Files disclosures show that export licenses for surveillance technologies were granted to corporate entities within the Intellexa alliance in France. In addition, the European Parliament’s investigation into the use of Pegasus and other Equivalent Spyware (PEGA) committee reports notes that Greek authorities have granted export licenses to Intellexa to sell Predator to Madagascar and Sudan. It is unclear if these member states assessed the risks they represent to the violation of human rights before approving these export licenses.

Whether export licenses were sought and granted by other EU member states is also unclear, as are the details of any relevant human rights assessments conducted as part of the licensing process.”

Extracts of the Predator Files. 5 Oct 2023. Source: Amnesty International.

EU – New sanctions against Sudan

The new sanctions are the result of deep concerns over the military clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. The outbreak of hostilities would undermine efforts to restore the transition towards a civilian-led democratic government. The objective is to support an immediate cease of hostilities, facilitate humanitarian access, establish a permanent ceasefire arrangement, and resume the process toward reaching a lasting, inclusive, and democratic political settlement in Sudan.

The EU has now adopted a dedicated framework of restrictive measures, which comprise freezing of funds against listed persons and entities (the list of those yet to be established) and a prohibition for those persons from entering the territory of the EU Member States.

Sources: Council Decision (CFSP) 2023/2135 of 9 October 2023 concerning restrictive measures in view of activities undermining Sudan’s stability and political transition.
Council Regulation (EU) 2023/2147 of 9 October 2023 concerning restrictive measures given activities undermining the stability and political transition of Sudan

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Reading for you – Our readings of the week

EU – Chemical weapons

The European Union has prolonged until 16 October 2024 the restrictive measures against the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, adopted on 15 October 2018 (Decision (CFSP) 2018/1544).

9 Oct 2023, Source.

US – Seized ammunition transferred to Ukraine

On 2 October, the United States transferred approximately 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds of ammunition to the Ukrainian armed forces. This ammunition had been seized by U.S. Central Command naval forces in December 2022 from a flagless vessel in the Arabian Sea en route from Iran and destined for Yemen, where sanctioned groups, including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), directly support the Houthi movement. After filing a civil forfeiture action against the seized munitions, the title was transferred to the United States.

5 Oct 2023, Source.

US – Sensitive military information

A Navy service member admitted he transmitted sensitive U.S. military information to a Chinese intelligence officer. Between August 2021 and at least May 2023, the Navy service member received at least $14,866 in bribes from the intelligence officer. In exchange for the illicit payments, he surreptitiously collected and transmitted sensitive, non-public information to the intelligence officer regarding U.S. Navy operational security, military training and exercises, and critical infrastructure. These were plans for a large-scale maritime training exercise in the Pacific theatre, operational orders, and electrical diagrams and blueprints for a Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar system in Okinawa, Japan. He also used sophisticated encrypted communication methods to transmit the information, destroying evidence and concealing his relationship with the intelligence officer. Sentencing is scheduled for 8 January 2024.

10 Oct 2023, Source.


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