U.S. Bans Intellexa for Spyware that Targeted a Senator’s Phone.

Matthew Dellinger
Matthew Dellinger
Matthew Dellinger holds a Political Science and History BS and is working towards a Masters in Public Administration. Before his time at Atlas he joined GoodPolitical to serve as a writer and contributor while also expanding his knowledge on global events. Matthew is proud to be a part of a news organization that believes in delivering truthful, unfiltered, and unbiased news to people around the world.

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What Happened:

The U.S. Treasury Department banned a company called Intellexa from doing business in the U.S. after spyware was used to access a senator’s phone. Intellexa is notorious for making software that can hack smartphones and turn them into surveillance devices.

With the ban, Americans, and people who do business with American companies are forbidden from using the company, or having transactions with the founder, employees, and four affiliated companies.

Intellexa has not yet commented on the sanctions.

The Details:

Intellexa uses software called Predator that can access a person’s phone, turn on microphones and cameras, and download files without the user knowing. It has allegedly been used against journalists, human rights workers, and some high-level political figures. As of now, it is known that it has been used against two sitting members of Congress, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND).

The company website has been offline since 2023, but it is known that multiple governments across the world have used the technology for nefarious reasons. An executive order passed by U.S. President Biden in 2023 aimed to regulate software like this. Under the order, other companies with similar software were subjected to additional rules and regulations.

However, there are some concerns that the U.S. may lose valuable assets as spyware developers may be looking for new countries to work for. “The U.S. using a Treasury sanction is going to be a thunderclap for the spyware world,” said John Scott-Railton, a spyware researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

What’s Next:

It is difficult to know what spyware companies will do next. There are concerns that the developers will leave the U.S., meaning it will be harder for regulation, and more importantly, having the technology used against them. It is common for this software to be used against government officials. There was a scandal in Greece in 2022 where dozens of politicians and journalists were targeted.