Amnesty denounces the lack of control of international surveillance systems on anniversary of Pegasus crisis

Amnesty International denounced this Monday, anniversary of the revelations about Project Pegasus, that the international community still has not agreed to a global suspension of the sale of spyware, with the consequent lack of control in international surveillance systems.

Amnesty recalls that governments around the world were using NSO Group’s invasive Pegasus spyware to “illegitimately surveil human rights activists, political leaders, journalists and legal professionals.”

Despite “certain steps in the right direction,” Amnesty officials believe that action in this regard by governments is still not enough.

“It is alarming that surveillance companies continue to profit from human rights violations committed on a global scale,” said Danna Ingleton, deputy director of Amnesty Tech.

Amnesty recalls that over the past year, its Security Lab has uncovered new Pegasus attacks in Morocco and Western Sahara and in Poland. In addition, the lab has confirmed on its own that, in numerous cases, Pegasus continued to be used to illegitimately target individuals in countries such as El Salvador, Israel and Palestine, Poland and Spain.

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“Project Pegasus came as a reminder of the need for urgent action to regulate a sector that lacks control. It is shameful that the world’s governments are still not stepping forward to fully address this digital surveillance crisis,” Ingleton lamented.

There are currently open investigations and court cases against NSO Group pending in France, India, Mexico, Poland and Spain. In March, the European Parliament established the PEGA Committee to investigate the use of Pegasus and other spyware in Europe.

In addition, in November 2021, the U.S. government added NSO Group to its Entity List for “conducting activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.” That same month, Apple filed a lawsuit against NSO Group to seek liability for the surveillance and attacks suffered by Apple users.

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In recent weeks, it has emerged that L3Harris, a U.S. defense contractor, is in negotiations to acquire ownership of the Pegasus software. The future of NSO Group remains uncertain.

“Any move by NSO Group to change its business model to circumvent accountability must be opposed. The entire surveillance industry has been crippled and is in urgent need of reform,” says Ingleton.

“We continue to call for a global suspension of the sale, transfer and use of spyware until human rights safeguards are in place to regulate its use,” he concludes.

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