Germany seizes accounts of spyware firm accused of selling products to authoritarian countries including Turkey

German authorities have seized the accounts of spyware company FinFischer amid an investigation into whether it broke export laws by selling its products to authoritarian governments, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

The company’s accounts were impounded, though the measure will have no immediate effect because FinFischer is undergoing insolvency proceedings, The AP said, citing German judicial authorities.

Human rights groups accuse the Munich-based company of supplying Turkey, Egypt and Myanmar with trojan software known as FinSpy that could be used to eavesdrop on dissidents.

FinSpy is an infamous surveillance toolset, capable of intercepting communications, accessing private data and recording audio and video from the computer or mobile devices it is silently installed on.

In September 2020 Amnesty International released a report providing technical information on FinSpy samples in order to aid the cybersecurity research community in further investigations, enable cybersecurity vendors implement protection mechanisms against these newly discovered variants and to raise awareness among human rights defenders of evolving digital attack techniques.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and others argue that exporting such software outside the European Union requires prior authorization, which was not issued.

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