Human rights leaders at Davos 2022: spyware is a weapon — PRESS CONFERENCE

Human rights leaders at Davos: spyware is a weapon


 It’s time to halt the unchecked surveillance technology industry.

This press conference brings together some of the world’s leading civil society organizations assembled at the World Economic Forum in Davos. We stand together to red flag how the spyware industry has become an urgent threat to human rights and security, and the risks if world leaders don’t take a stand against the current state of surveillance technology and its government purchasers.

Surveillance technology is being weaponized to commit gross human rights violations across the globe. Scaling up their operations in the dark, developers make their fortunes supplying this dangerous tech to governments seeking to intimidate and silence dissenting voices, undermine trust in digital systems, and expand their arsenal for digital repression.



📍 Location: Promenade, under the world flags, adjacent to the entrance to the WEF Congress Centre

📅 Date and time: Wednesday 25 May, 2022, 10:15 – 10:45 CET

👥 Panelists:

Peggy Hicks, Director, Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures, and Right to Development Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Brett Solomon, Executive Director, Access Now

Stéphane Duguin, Chief Executive Officer, CyberPeace Institute

Ken Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

Agnès Callamard, Secretary General, Amnesty International

Tim Noonan, Director, Campaigns and Communications, International Trade Union Confederation

Helena Leurent, Director General, Consumers International (signatory but not present at the event)

Panelists will explore actions that world leaders can take to show responsible leadership amidst this proliferation of spyware technology, including: 

  • Reassessing business with, or investment in, spyware vendors;
  • Reining in the trade in cyber vulnerabilities;  
  • Identifying and instilling best corporate practices to isolate abusive actors; 
  • Advocating for, promoting, and supporting investigations into human rights violations in relation to the use of spyware, and providing redress and remedy to the victims;  
  • Joining lawsuits and participating in hearings and inquiries to achieve justice for victims and assert the rule of law; and
  • Lobbying governments to establish a moratorium limiting the sale, transfer, and use of abusive spyware, and to reform surveillance laws to protect human rights.

Call to Action

We, as human rights defenders, are calling on decision makers gathered at Davos to take action that protects everyone — from world leaders to the world’s most marginalized.

We call on all stakeholders to join us in publicly condemning the state of this dangerous trade, and initiating a moratorium limiting the sale, transfer, and use of abusive spyware until people’s rights are safeguarded under international human rights law.

Under mounting global pressure, the acceptance of this trade is faltering:

States hold the primary power — and the duty — to force an end to this trade and use of abusive tech. Leaders must bring their sanctions regimes, export controls, and surveillance oversight into the digital age, targeting first the spyware industry that erodes human rights. Companies have a responsibility to ensure that this pernicious industry comes to an end, and civil society organizations will continue to raise their voices and demand justice for the most vulnerable.

It’s time to shut down the unchecked spyware industry.

For more information, contact Brett Solomon: [email protected], +1 9179696077, Stephane Duguin: [email protected]

For media enquiries, contact: [email protected], [email protected]