At a glance.
- Project Pegasus prompts political scandals.
Project Pegasus as political scandal.
Pegasus target Sushant Singh, a fellow at India’s Centre for Policy Research, maintains in Foreign Policy that democracy is at risk in New Delhi. The ruling party is suspected of surveilling journalists, activists, businesspeople, scholars, judges, federal investigators, election authorities, and political opponents. The Dalai Lama’s associates, the Guardian notes, were also targeted. Internet Freedom Foundation director Apar Gupta, in an interview with Outlook India, says the hacking violated multiple laws, and calls for an independent investigation “to restore some degree of confidence.” Pegasus Project revelations put Washington in a tight spot as well. The Biden Administration has cultivated New Delhi’s alliance as a bulwark against Beijing, but the Modi Administration’s authoritarian tendencies complicate the relationship.
The Mexican Government, the Washington Post reports, is also facing renewed scrutiny for alleged Pegasus-enabled surveillance of politicians, journalists, lawyers, and activists, first uncovered in 2017. It’s unclear whether NSO Group still contracts with Mexican clients. President Obrador commented, “If any contract still exists, we must cancel it.” The leaked list of 50 thousand numbers contains 15 thousand Mexican numbers.
Israel is setting up a task force composed of Foreign, Defense, and Justice Ministry officials and intelligence personnel to navigate the controversy, according to the Guardian. The team will look into potential “policy changes” for “sensitive cyber exports.” Prime Minister Bennett is meanwhile talking up a “global cyber shield,” an “international platform for defusing cyber attacks,” Bloomberg reports.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) makes the case for security and accountability in a post-Pegasus world, calling privacy “a human right, a civil liberty and one of the centerpieces of a free society.” Proposed solutions include applying diplomatic pressure on states that push for backdoors or otherwise prioritize ease of access over device security, test the boundaries of “necessary and proportionate” surveillance, stockpile zero days, or develop and distribute “immoral spyware.” EFF would like to see a total ban on “state-sponsored malware,” along with legal reforms allowing victims to seek redress from countries and companies.
CTECH has NSO CEO Shalev Hulio’s response to the debate: “We are selling systems to prevent crime and terror, and ultimately what alternative do law enforcement, intelligence and police have when acting against pedophiles?” Hulio claims, on one hand, that NSO clients target a total of approximately 4,500 people each year, and on the other, that NSO doesn’t maintain a complete list of targets since the firm lacks real-time visibility into clients’ activities.