Ethiopia must be held accountable in the United States for an illegal malware and digital spying attack on an American citizen, who was spied on by the Ethiopian regime which claims immunity from liability for wiretapping a man’s Skype calls, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal appeals court on Monday.
The Ethiopian regime, by its own admission to the court, has been using malicious software to spy on journalists and dissidents based in America.
“Malicious digital surveillance and malware attacks against perceived political opponents, dissidents, and journalists have become all-too-common tactics used by governments with poor human rights records, such as Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam,” EFF said on Monday.
EFF believes when foreign governments governments carry out digital attacks on Americans, victims must be allowed to take them to court.
“Giving Ethiopia immunity for state-sponsored hacking would strip away one of the few protections Americans have against cyberattacks by foreign powers,” said Scott Gilmore, counsel at Guernica 37. “The invasion of our client’s home, through his computer, could happen to any of us. We all should have the right to seek justice.”
The Ethiopian American in question, Mr. Kidane, a placeholder name for the plaintiff in court, was sent a spying software . That software was later traced back to a server run by the Intelligence department of the Ethiopian regime.
The suit says that forensics experts found more than 2,000 files related to a spyware program called FinSpy, including evidence that it had accessed the plaintiff’s Skype calls, emails and Web-browsing history in violation of U.S. wiretapping laws, the Washington post reported in February 2014.
The report also said Computer researchers tracking the spread of spyware have named Ethiopia among a list of dozens of countries that use such products.
The spyware typically can read e-mails, snatch documents and contact lists, record video chats, and remotely activate cameras and microphones, making a computer capable of spying on targets in their homes or workplaces.
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