Joint open letter by civil society organizations & independent experts calling on states to implement moratorium on sale, transfer & use of surveillance technology
"Joint open letter by civil society organizations and independent experts calling on states to implement an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology", 27 July 2021
We the undersigned civil society organizations and independent experts are alarmed at the media revelations that NSO Group’s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale.
These revelations are a result of the Pegasus Project and are based on the leak of 50,000 phone numbers of potential surveillance targets. The project is a collaboration of more than 80 journalists from 16 media organizations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit, with the technical support of Amnesty International, who conducted forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the Pegasus spyware. These revelations prove wrong any claims by NSO that such attacks are rare or anomalous, or arising from rogue use of their technology. While the company claims its spyware is only used for legitimate criminal and terror investigations, it’s clear its technology facilitates systemic abuse. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “if the recent allegations about the use of Pegasus are even partly true, then that red line has been crossed again and again with total impunity.”
... We back the call of the UN High Commissioner, that “Governments should immediately cease their own use of surveillance technologies in ways that violate human rights, and should take concrete actions to protect against such invasions of privacy by regulating the distribution, use and export of surveillance technology created by others.”
Thus, we urge all states to urgently take the following steps:
To All States:
- Immediately put in place a moratorium on the sale, transfer, and use of surveillance technology. Given the breadth and scale of these findings, there is an urgent need to halt surveillance technology enabled activities of all states and companies, until human rights regulatory efforts catch up.
- Conduct an immediate, independent, transparent and impartial investigation into cases of targeted surveillance. Further, investigate export licenses granted for targeted surveillance technology, and revoke all marketing and export licenses in situations where human rights are put at risk.
- Adopt and enforce a legal framework requiring private surveillance companies and their investors to conduct human rights due diligence in their global operations, supply chains and in relation to the end use of their products and services. Under this legislation, private surveillance companies should be compelled to identify, prevent, and mitigate the human rights-related risks of their activities and business relationships.
We urge Israel, Bulgaria, and Cyprus and any other states in which NSO has Corporate Presence
- Exporting States, including Israel, Bulgaria and Cyprus, must immediately revoke all marketing and export licenses issued to NSO Group and its entities, and conduct an independent, impartial, transparent investigation to determine the extent of unlawful targeting, to culminate in a public statement on results of efforts and steps to prevent future harm.