The controversial FinFisher technology has been accused of playing a role in government surveillance in Bahrain.
FinFisher, from a firm called Gamma Group, is widely available but controversial. Reports in the past have suggested that it is being sold to governments in countries where it is not supposed to be sold.
Now, The Bahrain Watch rights group has said it is certain the governmentis using the software to spy on activists and lawyers in the country.
“New evidence has emerged suggesting that the Bahraini government infected the computers of some of the country’s most prominent lawyers, activists and politicians with the malicious FinFisher spy software (also known as FinSpy),” it said in a statement.
“The infections would have enabled the government to steal passwords and files, and spy through an infected computer’s webcam and microphone.”
The group reported that a recent data leak that pulled information from Gamma revealed a list of local targets. It said that the released information differs from the official information from Gamma and it called on the UK HMRC to investigate the company and its exports.
“This week’s leaked data shows that Gamma’s support staff were communicating with a customer in Bahrain from 2010 to 2012, and had sold the customer licences to spy on at least 30 computers simultaneously,” it added.
“Given that Gamma has repeatedly stated that it ‘only supplies the FinFisher product range to government organisations and law-enforcement agencies’, the Bahraini customer must have been a government body.”
The HMRC has already been asked to investigate the company, and an earlier demand was made by Privacy International.
“In the wrong hands, today’s surveillance technologies can have devastating effects, and the public, especially victims targeted by this surveillance, have a right to know what the UK government is doing about it,” said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International in 2013.
Then the HMRC declined to comment on individual cases, we have asked it about the Bahrain accusations.