Attention travelers involved in the commercial spyware industry: your US visa prospects just took a hit. The US government announced new restrictions targeting individuals credibly linked to the development, sale, or use of encryption-busting spyware. This move aims to curb the multibillion-dollar industry, notorious for its role in silencing dissidents worldwide.

“Travel to the US is crucial for many in this sector,” stated a US official. “However, accountability is paramount, and this policy holds individuals responsible for both direct misuse and facilitating its use.”

This follows previous actions against the spyware industry:

  • March 2022: US government agencies banned buying spyware from companies linked to abusive practices.
  • November 2021: Israel’s NSO Group, a leading spyware developer, was blacklisted by the US Commerce Department.

Why the clampdown?

  • National Security Threat: The US considers this spyware capable of bypassing smartphone encryption, posing a serious security risk.
  • Surveillance Concerns: By March 2023, at least 50 US government employees overseas were reportedly targeted by such spyware.
  • Human Rights Abuses: Evidence suggests its use against dissidents, journalists, and human rights advocates, particularly in countries receiving US aid.

Who’s affected?

  • Individuals involved in developing, selling, or using this type of spyware.
  • Those financially benefiting from its sale to countries known for misuse.


  • Making it harder for individuals linked to spyware abuse to obtain US visas.
  • Sending a strong message to deter further misuse and development.

What’s next?

While the effectiveness of these measures remains to be seen, they mark a significant step in the US fight against the misuse of spyware. advises individuals potentially affected to carefully consider their travel plans and consult with immigration experts if necessary.

Remember: Engaging in activities related to the misuse of commercial spyware can significantly impact your ability to travel to the US. Stay informed and make responsible choices to ensure smooth visa processing.

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