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NSO’s Pegasus surveilled Palestinian activists — it’s time for a moratorium on spyware sales

للقراءة بالعربية / Read in Arabic

Access Now and a coalition of human rights organizations condemn the hacking of six Palestinian human rights defenders’ devices with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, demand a moratorium on spyware sales, and call for immediate U.N. intervention.

“The evidence keeps mounting — Israel’s use and creation of spyware is unsafe,” said Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy Manager at Access Now. “The world cannot sit back and watch NSO Group technology target and persecute Palestinians any longer, we’re calling on the U.N. and global actors to denounce these unlawful attacks, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

In October 2021, Front Line Defenders uncovered the hacking (confirmed by the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International), which is part of a broader assault on Palestinian civil society. Three of the targeted human rights defenders come from prominent Palestinian civil society groups that Israeli authorities have designated as “terrorist organizations,” leading Access Now and civil society to raise serious questions about whether Israeli authorities were involved in the Pegasus targeting.

“Over the last year, spyware allegations and revelations have dominated the headlines on an almost daily basis,” said Natalia Krapiva, Tech Legal Counsel at Access Now. “From Palestine to Hungary, governments have had unbridled access to private information of activists, journalists, and regime critics, without any clear legal basis through technology like Pegasus. We need an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer, and use of these invasive surveillance technologies.”

The group of organizations is calling on the U.N. and global actors to:

  • Implement an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer, and use of surveillance technology until adequate human rights safeguards are in place; and 
  • Take urgent action to denounce human rights violations by states facilitated by the use of the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware and to provide immediate, robust support for impartial and transparent inquiries into the abuses.

After a growing list of global hacking revelations emerged, the U.S. Department of Commerce added NSO Group to its trade restriction list (Entity List) for “acting contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States,” a move Access Now supports.

Read the full statement.