Nations Fail to Restrain Surveillance Industry 1 Year After Pegasus Revelations – NGO

© AFP 2023 / JACK GUEZA photographic illustration shows a mobile phone near the NSO Group company logo on February 9, 2022 in the Israeli city of Netanya.
A photographic illustration shows a mobile phone near the NSO Group company logo on February 9, 2022 in the Israeli city of Netanya. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.07.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A year after the Pegasus Project exposures, failure to introduce a global moratorium on spyware sales is enabling the surveillance industry to grow unchecked, a prominent international human rights organization said on Monday.
The international scandal over Pegasus spyware, used by the Israeli authorities to spy on terrorists, broke in July 2021 after a joint media investigation unveiled that the spyware had also been used by private company NSO Group to conduct unlawful surveillance on politicians, businessmen, activists, journalists and opposition figures around the world.
Following the disclosures, human rights watchdogs have been repeatedly calling for the surveillance industry to be regulated, with some steps made "in the right direction," yet governments’ action has been insufficient, Amnesty International said in a statement.
"The Pegasus Project offered a wake-up call that action was urgently needed to regulate an industry that is out of control. Shamefully, governments worldwide are yet to step up and fully deal with this digital surveillance crisis," Deputy Director of Amnesty International - Technology Danna Ingleton said.
Currently, there are open investigations against NSO Group in France, India, Mexico, Poland and Spain. In November 2021, the United States designated the NSO Group as an entity engaged in "in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests." In March, the European Parliament set up the PEGA Committee to probe the misuse of Pegasus and other spyware across Europe. Nonetheless, most states have failed to mount a robust response to unlawful surveillance, Amnesty International noted.
"One year after the Pegasus spyware revelations shocked the world, it is alarming that surveillance companies are still profiting from human rights violations on a global scale… We continue to call for a global moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of spyware until human rights regulatory safeguards that govern its use are in place," Ingleton added.
Under international law, states are not only obliged to uphold human rights, but also to protect them from abuse by third parties, including private companies, the watchdog said, stressing that unlawful surveillance infringes on the right to privacy as well as the rights to freedom of expression, belief, association, and peaceful assembly.
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