Thursday, July 7, 2022

Meta Bans 7 Surveillance-for-hire Companies over Targeting its Users

The owner of Facebook Meta said he banned seven surveillance companies from targeting users on their platform. A new meta report says about 50,000 users will receive a “malicious activity” warning. Meta platform formerly called Facebook bans seven surveillance-for-hire companies over targeting its social media users.

He accused surveillance companies of acts such as creating fake accounts, befriending targets and using hacking methods to gather information. The company accused the company of targeting individuals, including journalists and human rights activists.

According to the report, after months of investigation, around 1,500 Meta pages on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have been terminated. The company has reached out to people in more than 100 countries on behalf of their customers, says Meta.

Thursday’s report put additional scrutiny in the surveillance industry after allegations earlier this year that the Pegasus spyware targeted thousands.

Facebook is already suing the owner of Pegasus – the NSO Group – for allegedly distributing the software via WhatsApp. The US government blacklisted the company and others last month, accusing them of “maliciously targeting” spyware at foreign governments.

“The surveillance industry is so much bigger than just companies and so much bigger than just hiring malware,” Nathaniel Glicher, head of security at Meta, said of the new report.

He added that investigators found “indiscriminate” attacks on the public as well as high-profile figures such as politicians and human rights defenders.

One such company called Meta is the Israeli company Black Cube, which rose to prominence after it was discovered that Harvey Weinstein had hired them to spy on women who accused him of sexual assault.

In a statement to Reuters, Black Cube denied “phishing or hacking” and said all of its agents’ activities were “fully compliant with local laws”.

Consumers affected by the activity will receive automated alerts that have been affected without providing details, meta officials said.

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