NEW DELHI: Cornered by media inquiries regarding abuse of Pegasus spyware based in Israel NSO Group had created to help governments track down terrorists, drug and sex trafficking networks, NSO Group has announced that it will “no longer respond to media inquiries” about how journalists, activists and political opponents were snooped for its spy technologies.
A series of explosive news articles revealed how Indian government agencies used NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to spy on activists, journalists and government critics. Not just in India, even the French president’s smartphone Emmanuel macron he was allegedly subjected to surveillance using Pegasus by the Moroccan intelligence service.
NSO Group called the full disclosure by Forbidden stories as a “planned and well-orchestrated media campaign.” The company in its defense said: “The list is not a list of targets or possible targets for Pegasus. The numbers on the list are not related to the NSO group. Any claim that a name on the list is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or a potential Pegasus target is wrong and untrue. ”
NSO Group claims to work only with authorized government. It has 60 clients in 40 countries. The company said that 51% of its users belong to Intelligence agencies, 38% law enforcement agencies and 11% military.
In its latest transparency report, the NSO Group said that it does not operate Pegasus, has no visibility into its use, and does not collect information about customers.
“NSO is a technology company. We do not operate the system, nor do we have access to our clients’ data, however, they are required to provide us with such information under investigation, ”he said in a post on his website.
Having said that, NSO Group said it would “thoroughly investigate any credible evidence of misuse of its technologies” by its customers.
According to the company’s transparency report, Pegasus is not a mass surveillance technology. “It only collects data from the mobile devices of specific individuals, suspected of being involved in serious crime and terror,” the company said in its Transparency and Accountability Report. However, note that NSO Group “has no visibility of its use” as it “does not operate Pegasus.
In other words, the company contradicts itself as it has little to no control over how governments use Pegasus once it is purchased. And the latest reports reveal that none of Pegasus’ potential targets in India or around the world have anything to do with terrorism, pedophilia, sex, and drug trafficking networks.