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15 Apr 2019

Access Now; Amnesty International; Committee to Protect Journalists; Human Rights Watch; Privacy International; R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales; Reporters Without Borders; Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, NYU School of Law and Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law

NGO coalition publishes 2nd open letter to Novalpina Capital, NSO Group, Francisco Partners

... We write in reply to your March 1, 2019 letter, which responded to our open letter of February 18, 2019 raising concerns around the acquisition by Novalpina Capital of a stake in NSO Group.

We welcome Novalpina Capital’s affirmation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. We are encouraged about your commitment to ensure NSO Group operates in accordance with the UNGPs, including through “robust transparency in line with those Principles,” and we urge you to respect and deliver on that commitment... Surveillance technology interferes with the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression when it is used in a manner not prescribed by law, is not strictly necessary to meet a legitimate aim, or is not deployed in a manner that is proportionate to that aim. To date, the surveillance industry remains an opaque, reckless, and often defiant business sector, lacking leadership in respecting human rights and addressing harms...

... [T]he undersigned organisations remain concerned on several points, as articulated in full in the attached Appendix.

Prior to setting a meeting, we request that Novalpina Capital respond in writing regarding, at a minimum, the following critical issues:

Acquisition details. You stated in your letter that you would not be able to disclose certain information related to the company and acquisition because the acquisition had not yet closed. In light of this we request information on the timeline of the acquisition, including the anticipated date of closing, and when we might expect additional details regarding corporate structure, governance processes, and operating procedures.

Statement regarding targeting of civil society. It is concerning to the undersigned organizations that Novalpina Capital made no statement regarding the targeting, by private investigators, of civil society who were investigating, reporting on, or involved in legal actions against NSO Group, as requested in our February 18 letter. Please indicate your position on such targeting.

Documentation of due diligence and investigation of reports of misuse. We support Citizen Lab in its call for Novalpina Capital to provide concrete documentation regarding its due diligence and other efforts to address reports of misuse. Our approach is complementary and in coalition with them. As Citizen Lab’s Director notes, you have not provided any evidence to support the claim that the organization’s conclusions or research are flawed. We request that you provide such documentation in support of your assertions. Please include details on the steps Novalpina Capital takes to identify and address potential and actual human rights impacts of its activities, products and services, including those of its portfolio company NSO Group.

Public commitment to cooperate with official investigations in Mexico. Novalpina Capital made no mention of its commitment to cooperate with ongoing investigations regarding abuses associated with NSO Group’s spyware in Mexico. Please indicate your position on this request.