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19 Jun 2019

Stephanie Kirchgaessner & Jon Swaine, The Guardian

Novalpina Capital promises enhanced respect for human rights at NSO Group following allegations that its technology was used to spy on defenders

"WhatsApp spyware: UK firm promises new 'respect for human rights' following allegations", 18 Jun 2019

A controversial Israeli cyber weapons company has agreed to establish new internal rules on ways it will protect human rights activists and journalists following multiple allegations that its technology was used to spy on dissidents and the media. Its majority owner, Novalpina Capital, a UK private equity firm, has promised a “significant enhancement of respect for human rights” at NSO Group, whose Pegasus software was recently alleged to have infected phones through a glitch in the WhatsApp messaging software. The announcement was made shortly after the Guardian revealed NSO Group’s ownership structure... In a...statement... [owner of Novalpina Stephen Peel] said: “Novalpina is committed to do whatever necessary to ensure NSO’s technology is used only for its intended lawful purpose” ... Novalpina...said [the] new governance framework will “be designed to reflect the need for particular attention to be paid to adverse human rights impacts on individuals at ‘heightened risk of vulnerability or marginalisation’”, including journalists and human rights defenders...  The initial response to NSO’s announcement from activists and researchers who closely monitor the company was sceptical. “You don’t do human rights by press release, and you don’t commit to openness by listing all the ways you reserve the right to not be open,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher... at Citizen Lab...