Thank Creators of Free Anti-Surveillance Software


Target: Claudio Guarnieri, The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto

Goal: Applaud new app that alerts users to government spyware found on their computers

New free software tells computer users whether or not they have been spied on by their government, thanks to a project called Detekt. The open-sourced spyware detector will be made available as a result of a partnership between security researcher Claudio Guarnieri and organizations Digitale Gesellschaft, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amnesty International, and Privacy International. The software will be able to pick out traces of surveillance left behind by software used by governments to keep tabs on journalists and activists.

Since revelations made by Edward Snowden about a year ago sparked outrage over the government’s overuse of unwarranted online surveillance, little has been done to change the legislation that allows it. Each year, law enforcement and intelligence organizations across the world spend $5 billion on surveillance equipment to be used against unwitting citizens, the cost of which continues to rise.

Detekt aims to expose the presence of products that facilitate this surveillance, such as FinFisher, a trojan sold to governments that bypasses regular anti-malware protection by sometimes illegally masquerading as Mozilla Firefox. FinFisher can take control of a computer’s microphones, webcams, and communication applications like Skype or email in order to monitor and record conversations.

Despite this surveillance being a breach of citizens’ rights to privacy and secure communications, most countries’ constitutions do not protect wireless and broadband data the same way they would protect wired telephone calls or post mail. This has so far resulted in almost unhindered governmental access to swathes of data about computer users, many of whom have no past criminal record. Sign the petition below to thank the creators of this new software, which will help give regular computer users a chance to protect themselves against highly sophisticated spying software.


Dear Mr. Guarnieri,

You recently developed an app to alert users to evidence of government surveillance software on their computers, giving them a chance to protect themselves and regain their privacy. Detekt, which is being distributed for free, will help deter programs like FinFisher, malware that can listen to microphones and watch webcams without a computer user’s knowledge.

A disheartening lack of online privacy protection legislation allows many governments to spy on activists, journalists, and even regular citizens not suspected of any crimes. I applaud your efforts to combat unconstitutional surveillance with the creation of Detekt, which will help users keep their communications and personal data secure.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Chris He via Creative Commons

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