Mozilla blasts spurious disguise of online surveillance tools

Open source focused developer of the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email client and Bugzilla bug tracking system Mozilla has issued a “cease and desist” notice to Gamma International.


Mozilla accuses Gamma International of producing spyware that “passes itself off” as Firefox.

Gamma International markets FinFisher (also known as FinSpy), a piece of surveillance software forming part of the firm’s “IT intrusion” product and training portfolio.

BBC news confirms that Finfisher is a piece of “legitimate surveillance software” that is thought to be used by governments to covertly obtain data.

Violating citizens’ human rights and online privacy

“We cannot abide a software company using our name to disguise online surveillance tools that can be – and in several cases actually have been – used by Gamma’s customers to violate citizens’ human rights and online privacy,” said Alex Fowler, global privacy and public policy leader at Mozilla.

“As an open source project trusted by hundreds of millions of people around the world, defending Mozilla’s trademarks from this type of abuse is vital to our brand, our users and the continued success of our mission,” added Fowler.

TechTarget defines Spyware as any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organisation without their knowledge. On the Internet (where it is sometimes called a spybot ortracking software), spyware is programming that is put in someone’s computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties.

False trust

Mozilla’s Fowler confirmed in a blog post that through the work of the company’s Citizen Lab research team, his team believes that Gamma’s spyware tries to give users the “false impression” that, as a program installed on their computer or mobile device — it is related to Mozilla and Firefox — and is thus “trustworthy” both technically and in its content.