After several scandals involving private companies that develop hacker software, the United States intends to impose new restrictions on the sale of commercial tools for hacking information systems.
The US Department of Commerce announced a rule change to impose new restrictions on the sale or export of “certain designs that can be used for malicious cyber activity.” This applies to tools used to penetrate digital systems and carry out surveillance, such as special software for hackers. New rules, developed over several years, should come into force within 90 days.
There is no complete ban. Companies wishing to sell hacking tools to other countries must now apply for a special license from the Bureau of Industry and Security of the US Department of Commerce. All applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“The United States government opposes the abuse of technology for human rights abuses or other malicious cyber activity, and these new rules will help ensure that American companies discourage authoritarian practices.”– said in a statement from the ministry.
Although the new changes have been in preparation for a long time, they were only announced after a series of scandals involving the use of malware. Thus, the Israeli NSO Group found itself at the center of investigative journalism – its software was used to spy on journalists, politicians and human rights defenders around the world. The NSO was rumored to have sold its software all over the world, including countries where it was used to spy on citizens.
In September, another scandal erupted – it turned out that a group of former US intelligence officers had hacked into American computer systems on the instructions of the Middle East company BlackMatter, which works for the government of the United Arab Emirates. The incident is believed to have served as a catalyst to speed up the preparation and promulgation of the new rules. In particular, now the former employees of the special services will find it difficult to work for foreign governments.
Commerce Department Chief Gina Raimondo said the rules are designed to restrict “malicious” cyber activity while protecting the “legitimate” use of technology.
“The United States is committed to working with our many partners to curb the spread of certain technologies that could be used for malicious activities that threaten cybersecurity and human rights.”, – said Raimondo. Export controls for certain technologies are specifically designed to protect America’s national security from malicious cyber activity, while ensuring legal cybersecurity activities, she said.