NSO Group human rights

U.S. Solicitor General and Department of Commerce must hold NSO accountable

NSO Group must be held accountable for facilitating human rights abuses around the world. This week, Access Now and partner human rights organizations wrote to the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, Energy, and Defense calling on them to ensure that NSO Group remains on the Entity List — a trade restriction list. 

“There is clear evidence that NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware continues to be used by governments to engage in secret surveillance of journalists around the world,” said Michael DeDora, US Advocacy Manager of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “This is a direct threat to freedom of the press, and the free flow of information. The U.S. government must hold NSO Group accountable for their violations and send a firm message to the world that this behavior will not be tolerated.”  

NSO Group was originally added to the list in response to the company’s threats to human rights and national security, on November 2, 2021. These threats remain unmitigated, and this list is where the company must remain.

Earlier this month, Access Now and coalition partners also urged the U.S. Solicitor General to oppose NSO Group’s claims before the U.S. Supreme Court that it is entitled to sovereign immunity before U.S. Courts — it should not be. The Solicitor General will be providing an opinion to the Supreme Court on NSO’s appeal.

“NSO Group produces technology that stalks, invades, and destroys the lives of those it is unleashed upon,” said Natalia Krapiva, Tech-Legal Counsel at Access Now. “The creator and distributor of Pegasus cannot be given immunity merely because it contracts with governments. We must ensure there is a domestic remedy for these global violations. NSO Group cannot be allowed to violate the rights of human rights activists and journalists with impunity.” 

Both of the letters highlight evidence that NSO Group’s spyware continues to be used at a massive scale against human rights defenders, journalists, and government officials by repressive regimes, despite the Entity List designation, and a lawsuit filed by WhatsApp suing the company for targeting peoples’ devices through the communications app.

Access Now and coalition partners continue to demand accountability not just for NSO Group, but the entire unchecked spyware industry, including through a moratorium limiting the sale, transfer, and use of these cyber weapons. Read the Surveillance Technologies Accountability Project’s guide to human rights due diligence for shareholders who may have investments in surveillance technologies. 

Read the letter dated August 23, 2022, and the letter dated August 3, 2022.

Access Now and partners thank Kyle McLorg from Farella Braun + Martel LLP for his pro bono legal assistance with the August 3 letter to the U.S. Solicitor General.

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