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18 Feb 2019

Ron Deibert, Citizen Lab (Canada)

Citizen Lab publicly responds to Novalpina Capital's letter on purchase of NSO Group

"Open letter to Novalpina Capital on involvement in the purchase of NSO Group", 18 Feb 2019

I am writing in my capacity as Director of the Citizen Lab in response to your letter dated February 15, 2019 regarding Novalpina Capital’s involvement in the purchase of NSO Group... Since 2016, we have published a total of 11 reports regarding NSO Group’s spyware. These reports provide empirical evidence that NSO Group’s technology has been used abusively and illegally to spy on civil society, human rights defenders, and journalists, among other targets. We appreciate your commitment—as stated in your letter of February 15, 2019—to “helping NSO Group become more transparent about its business.”

As a first step, we ask that Novalpina Capital provide answers to the following questions regarding...human rights due diligence and corporate social responsibility practices

- What “extensive due diligence” processes were undertaken by Novalpina Capital prior to the purchase of NSO Group?

- What criteria were used to determine that Novalpina Capital believes NSO Group “operates with the highest degree of integrity and caution”?

- What “safeguards” are in place regarding the responsible and appropriate use of NSO Group products?...

As Citizen Lab recently noted...the fact that NSO Group provides technology to governments engaged in lawful surveillance efforts does not justify a carte blanche approach to human rights and business practices within the surveillance industry. [Refers to Francisco Partners and the Blackstone Group].