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20 Feb 2019

Brett Solomon, Access Now

Access Now letter to Novalpina Capital regarding its acquisition of NSO Group

Thank you for your letter regarding NovalpinaCapital’s role in the acquisition of NSO Group. As you have rightly identified, at Access Now we have closely followed the actions of the NSO Group, a firm whose technology has deeply impacted the human rights of persons at risk around the world. This business deal and change of ownership is therefore an important development that we have watched and as such, I would like to share with you our views about the process.

In your letter you outline that Novalpina undertook due diligence before participating in the acquisition. As the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights set out, such a process should involve “meaningful consultation with potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders.” Unfortunately, we were not approachedby your firm prior to the acquisition, nor do we know that any other affected partners, rightsholders or interested stakeholders were consulted in this way.

We would have appreciated the opportunity to discuss with you a number of very important issues that must be considered, including: the ties between NSO Group and certain governments who routinely abuse human rights, the failure of NSO Group or its previous owner Francisco Partners to disclose or extend meaningful access to remedy for harms they did cause or contribute to, and the threat that invasive surveillance technology poses to civil society, journalists, and human rights defenders broadly.