Hungary uses governmental spyware package

The Hungarian government is among the users of Finfisher, a surveillance software package used by oppressive regimes, according to Citizenlab, a University of Toronto research unit and a recently published Wikileaks document.

The package is undetectable even for sophisticated antivirus programs and enables users to access literally all of an individual’s personal data, including emails, computer files and internet-based phone calls. It is an entirely untransparent monitoring tool and has led to fears that Hungarian civilians, opposition leaders and journalists could be at risk of state surveillance.

WikiLeaks has published two documents related to state surveillance in Hungary, the first a German-language agreement that apportions markets between Dreamlab Technologies and Gamma International, allocating the Hungarian market to the latter. The second is a brochure about a surveillance software named Bongo, developed by Neti Kft, an offshoot of the non-profit public benefit organization Puskas Tivadar Public Foundation.

A total of 36 countries actively use surveillance programs, according to Citizenlab’s report on the proliferation of digital surveillance technologies. These companies seek profit regardless of their customers’ commitment to democracy, and therefore may abet many crimes, WikiLeaks adds.

Reports last year said Gamma had been in negotiations with the Mubarak regime, according to written evidence uncovered in raids of the former Egyptian leader’s intelligence headquarters. Gamma dismissed the accusations saying it had no knowledge of such talks. IT professionals cast doubt on this, noting that setting up the spy software on a country’s servers requires active government involvement.

The original article was posted on 16 September 2013. Translated by atlatszo.hu volunteers, edited by Dan Nolan.