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Pegasus spying: NSO admits to spyware abuse three weeks ago

Privacy threatened as more govts use spyware to monitor People

Ground Report | New Delhi: Pegasus spying; Nearly three weeks before the global revelations about surveillance through Pegasus spyware, Israel’s NSO Group, the maker of Pegasus, admitted in a policy document that it could be misused.

According to the Indian Express, this document, prepared on June 30, states that NSO Group has 60 customers (government and government agencies) in 40 countries. Of these, 51 percent are intelligence agencies, 38 percent are law enforcement agencies and 11 percent are military organizations.

It describes the possible misuse of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware against politicians, NGOs, journalists, lawyers, etc. He said that such information can also be extracted through this which hurts any person and is not related to national security or compliance with the law.

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Pegasus spying

The group acknowledged that there are many dangers of using their technology, including interference with legal and judicial process rights, arbitrary arrests, suppression of freedom of thought, restrictions on freedom of movement, etc.

The special thing is that the NSO Group has also said in that document that due to extreme secrecy, they will not be able to do much.

The Israeli firm said it had examined 12 reports in 2020 and that between May 2020 and April 2021, “about 15 percent of new customers they rejected due to human rights concerns.” NSO Group also said That he has turned down a deal worth 300 million US dollars since 2016.

The group said that to protect against any misuse, they provide in their purchase terms to “comply with human rights standards and use this spyware only in serious crime and terrorism”. The NSO Group report claimed that the firm is strictly monitored by the Defense Export Control Agency under the Israeli Ministry of Defense to license Pegasus. The company also exports its products to Bulgaria and Cyprus.

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The group claims to have completed a review of 10 out of 12 abuse reports received in 2020. Of these, three have been found actionable. It is known that in the last few days, under the Pegasus project, 17 media organizations around the world, including The Wire, have published several reports one after the other, revealing possible spyware through Pegasus spyware.

The leaked list was first obtained by French non-profit Forbidden Stories, which contains more than 50,000 numbers likely to be monitored. Amnesty International has confirmed the hacking of some of these phones through its forensic investigation. Regarding this, NSO Group has claimed that these numbers were not targeted through Pegasus.

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