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Turkmenistan: British Complaint Bores into Murky World of Spyware

Ashgabat calling: is a British company helping the Turkmen government spy on cell phones? (Photo: David Trilling)

Think Skype is a secure way to make a call? Think again. That smartphone in your pocket? It could be a portable bug. And the camera on your laptop screen? You might consider covering it with duct tape.

Disguised as regular software updates, sophisticated British-made spyware – sometimes described as “malware” – is ending up in the hands of human rights abusers, a London-based watchdog group is alleging. In July, the group, Privacy International, filed a letter of complaint that asked the British government to start adhering to UK law and stop the export of such surveillance technologies to authoritarian states, including Turkmenistan. After an inconclusive response from government lawyers on August 8, Privacy International says it is pondering its options as it tries to place the issue in a public spotlight.

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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.

Turkmenistan: British Complaint Bores into Murky World of Spyware

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