CPJ welcomes Biden order limiting use of commercial spyware

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on March 23, 2023. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

President Joe Biden on Monday issued an executive order restricting the U.S. government’s use of commercial spyware tools. The order prohibits executive departments and agencies from using the spyware if they determine it could pose significant counterintelligence or security risks to the U.S. government or be used improperly by foreign agents.

CPJ’s U.S. and Canada Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen welcomed the move, saying, “President Biden’s executive order limiting the United States’ use of commercial spyware is an important step in recognizing and mitigating the harm that these technologies can have on journalists and democratic institutions more broadly.”

Jacobsen added: “This order serves as an important reminder as this week’s Summit for Democracy begins that unfettered use of technology to surveil journalists is a threat to core democratic values in the U.S. and abroad.”

The global use of spyware has prompted what CPJ views as an existential crisis for journalism and the organization has been among those calling for moratoriums on its use. Read CPJ’s special report on spyware’s threat to press freedom globally

Analysis by CPJ experts

Li Zehua, an independent Chinese video journalist who uses the name Kcriss, spoke to CPJ about his experience reporting from Wuhan at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Li Zehua)

*Chinese journalist held for reporting on Wuhan COVID outbreak wishes he’d done more

* Newly released from a Turkish prison, Kurdish journalist Nurdim Turfent reflects on sham prosecution

* Iran’s seizure of journalists’ devices raises fears of fresh arrests, prosecutions

* CPJ interviewed Nicaraguan journalists Juan Lorenzo Holmann and Miguel Mendoza, who were were among 222 political prisoners unexpectedly released by Nicaraguan authorities and deported to the United States on February 9.

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Journalists Attacked

Martinez Zogo


Martinez Zogo, the managing director of the privately owned Cameroonian radio broadcaster Amplitude FM, was found dead on January 22, 2023.

Five days earlier, unidentified attackers had abducted Zogo from his car in Yaoundé, the capital. The attackers chased Zogo, who had recently reported on alleged public embezzlement involving a prominent businessman, to the gate of the local gendarmerie office near the journalist’s home, where he had sought help.

Authorities have arrested several people in connection with the murder, including the businessman Zogo had reported on and prominent members of Cameroon’s security forces.

In nearly 8 out of 10 cases, the murderers of journalists go free. CPJ is waging a global campaign against impunity.

The Committee to Protect Journalists promotes press freedom worldwide.

We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.

journalists killed in 2023 (motive confirmed)
imprisoned in 2022
missing globally