The term “spyware” refers to software that's designed to infiltrate, monitor, and extract sensitive information from a user's device without their knowledge or consent. Perhaps the most infamous example of the harm that spyware can do is the 2018 killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi government operatives, who used spyware to track Khashoggi before luring him to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he was murdered. But spyware use is not just limited to repressive autocracies. It's frequently both developed and used by liberal democracies, a practice that has generated increasing concern over the past few years.

To talk about spyware and its potential regulation under international law, Alan Rozenshtein, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota and Senior Editor at Lawfare, spoke with Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, a Regents Professor and the Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she also directs the Human Rights Center. Most importantly for this conversation, she's also the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, a position she's held since 2017. As part of that role, she recently published a report on the Global Regulation of the Counter-Terrorism Spyware Technology Trade. Alan spoke with Fionnuala about her findings and what, if anything, can be done to make spyware compliant with human rights.

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