Global: UN Human Rights experts called States to “impose a global moratorium on the sale and transfer of surveillance technology” to protect human rights defenders; it refers to NSO Group
“Spyware scandal: UN experts call for moratorium on sale of ‘life threatening’ surveillance tech” – 12 August 2021
“It is highly dangerous and irresponsible to allow the surveillance technology and trade sector to operate as a human rights-free zone,” the experts warned.
“We are deeply concerned that highly sophisticated intrusive tools are being used to monitor, intimidate and silence human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents,” the experts said. “Such practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, privacy and liberty, possibly endanger the lives of hundreds of individuals, imperil media freedom, and undermine democracy, peace, security and international cooperation.”
Two years ago, the then UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression published a report on the dangerous impact of surveillance technology on human rights and recommended an immediate moratorium on its sale and transfer until international regulations incorporating human rights safeguards were adopted. The international community failed to heed his call.
On 18 July 2021, Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International exposed the widespread surveillance of the mobile devices of hundreds of journalists, human rights defenders, and political leaders, using the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The NSO Group promptly rejected allegations concerning its involvement in these unlawful practices.
“Given the extraordinary audacity and contempt for human rights that such widespread surveillance shows, if the denial of collusion by the NSO Group is to have any credibility at all, the company must disclose whether or not it ever conducted any meaningful human rights due diligence in line the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and publish fully the findings of any internal probes it may have undertaken on this issue.”