Mozilla Brings Infringement Suit

Monday, May 6, 2013 @ 10:05 AM gHale

Firefox-maker Mozilla said Gamma International disguises its spyware to look like the popular web browser and it wants them to stop.

The non-profit software foundation slapped a cease-and-desist demand on UK-based FinFisher developer Gamma. In the legal letter, Mozilla said Gamma is violating its Firefox trademark and this infringement must end immediately.

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Alex Fowler, Firefox maker’s director of privacy and policy, said Mozilla takes abuse of its Firefox trademark seriously because it hurts users, creates confusion and jeopardizes Mozilla’s reputation.

At the center of the allegations is Gamma’s FinSpy program, which is able to infiltrate a suspect’s PC and allow a user to control it from a remote server. There are claims FinSpy masquerades as a harmless copy of the Firefox web browser so victims who find it installed see no need to remove it.

Mozilla fired off its legal demand following the publication of a Citizen Lab report titled For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying.

Citizen Lab is at the Munk School of Global Affairs, at the University of Toronto, Canada, and warned of a FinFisher stealth update in March.

Gamma sells the surveillance software as a tool for criminal and intelligence agencies to view emails, catch chatroom banter, Skype calls and other Internet phone conversations, and to harvest a PC’s hard drive for material.

FinSpy is part of Gamma’s FinFisher suite, which is able to evade detection and was in at least 25 countries.

“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,” Fowler said.

He stressed FinSpy does not affect Firefox. “Gamma’s software is entirely separate, and only uses our brand and trademarks to lie and mislead as one of its methods for avoiding detection and deletion,” Fowler said.

Gamma said FinSpy is a tool for intelligence and law enforcement work. However, Citizen Lab said citizens critical of the government in Bahrain and supporters of opposition candidates in Malaysia’s elections received emails that attempt to trick them into installing FinSpy on their Windows PCs.

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