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An Italian computer spyware firm, Hacking Team, whose tools foreign governments allegedly have used to spy on dissidents and journalists, relies heavily on the servers of U.S. Internet companies, according to a new report from The Citizen Lab, a MacArthur grantee and recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. At least 20 percent of the servers used by clients of Hacking Team are located in the United States, effectively making the companies that own those servers key nodes in a hidden global network of spyware servers. The Citizen Lab, which is based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, asserts that these findings raise ethical questions for the cloud companies whose servers Hacking Team clients use to surreptitiously take control of targets’ computers and phones, turn on Web cameras, and intercept encrypted communications. The report comes amid calls for export controls on such software.

Human Rights & International Justice, MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions, Human Rights, Technology