Meta has alerted around 50,000 users that their accounts were spied on by commercial ‘surveillance-for-hire’ schemes around the globe.
The global surveillance-for-hire industry targets people across the Internet to collect intelligence, manipulate them into revealing information, and compromise their devices and accounts.
“We alerted around 50,000 people who we believe were targeted by these malicious activities worldwide, using the system we launched in 2015,” the company said in a statement.
“We recently updated it to provide people with more granular details about the nature of targeting we detect, in line with the surveillance chain phases framework we shared above,” it added.
The company said that these companies are part of a sprawling industry that provides intrusive software tools and surveillance services indiscriminately to any customer — regardless of who they target or the human rights abuses they might enable.
This industry “democratises” these threats, making them available to government and non-government groups that otherwise wouldn’t have these capabilities.
“As a result of our months-long investigation, we took action against seven different surveillance-for-hire entities,” the company said.
“They provided services across all three phases of the surveillance chain to indiscriminately target people in over 100 countries on behalf of their clients. These providers are based in China, Israel, India, and North Macedonia,” it added.
A report on Friday said that Meta had banned Delhi-based IT company BellTroX InfoTech Services, based at Netaji Subhash Place in the Shakurpur area of East Delhi.
Hiding under the radar for some time after its activities were exposed last year, BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted advocacy groups and journalists, elected and senior government officials, hedge funds and multiple industries on the six continents, creating ripples among the powers-that-be.
Meta said that BellTroX is based in India and sells what’s known as ‘hacking for hire’ services.