Mozilla Angry with UK Government Surveillance Spyware AgencyTop executives at the Mozzarella Foundation got angry with the British government spyware outfit called Gamma International: the open source browser developers became furious after they found out that the agency was using Firefox as a disguise for its FinSpy software.
Mozilla complained that FinSpy works by installing a disguised version of Firefox and then accessing key-strokes, activating webcams and recording Skype calls as Firefox. In such way, users don’t delete the software. The spyware is used by governments to snoop on citizens. In the meanwhile, the product was outed by human rights group Citizen Lab.
A few days ago, Mozilla has sent Gamma a cease and desist letter and asked them to stop such illegal practices immediately. The representatives of Google admitted that not was the activity illegal, but Mozilla takes it seriously because it is deceptive, harms users, can cause consumer confusion and harm the company’s reputation.
Apparently, Mozilla can’t abide a software company using its name to disguise online surveillance instruments that can be – and actually have been – used by Gamma’s customers to violate other people’s human rights and online privacy. However, the spyware doesn’t affect Firefox itself or the way it operates. In fact, FinSpy only uses the brand and trademarks to lie and mislead users, which is one of its methods to avoid detection and deletion.
If you are targeted by FinSpy and decide to take a look at files related to the spyware, you’ll see that Gamma misrepresents the software as being “Firefox.exe” and includes the properties associated with the popular browser with a version number and copyright and trademark claims attributed to Firefox and Mozilla Developers. This tactic showed up in a spyware attack in Bahrain, which targeted democracy activists, as well as in spyware used in the run-up to Malaysia’s future elections.