"Israeli spyware used to target Indian journalists, human rights activists: WhatsApp", 31 October 2019
Facebook-owned WhatsApp...said Indian...journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware Peagasus.
WhatsApp said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities' spies to hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users.
These users span across four continents and included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.
However, it did not say on whose behest the phones of journalists and activists across the world were targeted...
Refusing to divulge identities or the exact number of those targeted in India, WhatsApp said it had in May stopped a highly sophisticated cyberattack that exploited its video calling system to send malware to its users.
WhatsApp said it "believes the attack targeted at least 100 members of civil society...this number may grow higher as more victims come forward".
WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said these victims include human rights defenders, journalists and other members of the civil society across the world.
Cathcart asserted that WhatsApp was committed to the fundamental right to privacy and that it is working to stay ahead of those who seek to violate that right.
Part of the following timelines
WhatsApp sues Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO Group, accusing it of hacking the phones of human rights activists & journalists
Department of Justice lawyers recently approached the messaging app WhatsApp with technical questions about the alleged targeting of 1,400 of its users by NSO Group’s government clients in 2019, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
The NSO Group has made a fresh bid in an American appeals court to get WhatsApp’s lawsuit against it dismissed. The controversial cybersecurity firm has argued that it is entitled to “foreign sovereign immunity” as it “exclusively” acts as an agent of foreign sovereigns. The district court, which had dismissed NSO’s appeal to dismiss WhatsApp’s lawsuit, had said that such immunity only extends to companies incorporated in the US, a ruling that the NSO Group has challenged.
This article contains a review of NSO Group's arguments in appeal.
Pegasus became the center of controversy after an international media consortium reported it was used in attempts to hack smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives, and officials in some 50 countries.
Washington Post editorial acknowledges importance of US decision to blacklist NSO Group, calls for tackling the rest of the sprawling and shadowy spyware industry that threatens civil society around the globe.
CSOs & experts request U.N. Human Rights Council to urgently denounce & mandate independent investigations into situation of human rights violations facilitated by sale, export, transfer, & use of surveillance technology
Five organisations call upon the European Commission and EU member states to follow up on their promise of creating a transparent market in cyber-surveillance technologies bound by effective human rights safeguards.
Civil society groups say the Pegasus revelations should be a wake-up call for the urgent need to protect the right to privacy. The groups say the government should carry out surveillance reform that ensures independent judicial oversight, and provides for judicial remedy, as well as a data protection framework that respects rights.
Bahraini human rights activists, including an activist from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, were hacked with NSO's Pegasus spyware. The zero-click attack defeated new security protections that Apple designed to withstand covert compromises, say researchers at Citizen Lab.
David Haigh and Tiina Jauhiainen, two associates of the emir of Dubai’s daughter, have joined a group of potential claimants considering legal action in the wake of the Pegasus scandal after their phones were allegedly targeted with NSO spyware.
WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, meaning messages shared via the platform are, under normal circumstances, highly secure—a feature that has made it attractive for journalists, human rights defenders, and other vulnerable users, particularly in repressive environments. In an interview with CPJ Will Cathcart, the chief executive of WhatsApp, says spyware subverting end-to-end encryption is a threat to democracy and expresses concerns about attacks on human rights defenders.
The Committee to Protect Journalists spoke to David Kaye, former Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion & expression, about the Pegasus Project and why surveillance reform should reach beyond NSO Group and Israel.
Human Rights Watch reports that NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware has been used for surveillance of dozens of journalists, human rights activists, and others demonstrate the urgent need for governments to suspend the trade in surveillance technology until rights-protecting regulatory frameworks are in place. Human Rights Watch says governments should immediately cease their own use of surveillance technologies in ways that violate human rights.
Amnesty International Australia has written to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, reiterating that the surveillance industry must no longer be afforded a laissez-faire approach from governments with a vested interest in using this technology to commit human rights violations.
In this joint open letter, 146 civil society organizations and 28 independent experts worldwide call on states to implement an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology. The signatories highlight the key human rights implications of the Pegasus project's exposé and issue a series of recommendations to states, as well as to states that export surveillance technology.
The London-headquartered private equity firm is to be wound up following a months-long dispute between its three principals and controversy over its ownership of the surveillance technology provider NSO Group
This briefing highlights key insights into the human rights risks from digital surveillance technology, such as the improper breadth of targeting under international human rights law; the tool’s clandestine nature; the severe resulting human rights violations; states and companies’ impunity; and states’ failure to protect their residents from illegal hacking and surveillance.
A Moroccan court has sentenced journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi to six years in jail on charges of espionage and rape, offences which he has denied. Days before the trial began in June 2020, an Amnesty International investigation suggested the Moroccan authorities had planted Israel-made Pegasus spyware on Radi's cellphone.