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NSO clients spying disclosures prompt political rows & drop in Apple stock price; company founder "very concerned" about reports

Revelations about the use of spying tools sold to governments by NSO Group sparked furious political rows across the world on Monday after evidence emerged to suggest the surveillance firm’s clients may have sought to target their political opponents... The stock price of Apple dipped amid worries about the privacy and security of its handsets...

  • At least 50 people close to Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador – such as his wife, children, aides and doctor – were included in the list of possible targets when he was an opposition politician.
  • Rahul Gandhi, the most prominent political rival of the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was twice selected as a potential target in leaked phone number data.
  • Carine Kanimba, the American daughter of Paul Rusesabagina, the imprisoned Rwandan activist who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, has been the victim of multiple attacks using NSO spyware, according to a forensic analysis of her mobile phone, although Rwanda denies it has the NSO technology.
  • The whistleblower Edward Snowden said he feared Pegasus was potentially so powerful that it and spyware like it should be banned from international sale. “If they find a way to hack one iPhone, they’ve found a way to hack all of them,” Snowden said, arguing spyware should be treated in a similar way to nuclear weapons where trade in the technology is heavily restricted.

... In statements issued through its lawyers, NSO said that the Pegasus project reporting consortium had made “incorrect assumptions” about which clients used the company’s technology. It said the leaked data could not be a list of numbers “targeted by governments using Pegasus”.

In his first public comments since media the disclosures began, Shalev Hulio, the founder and chief executive of NSO, said he continued to dispute that the leaked data “has any relevance to NSO”, but added that he was “very concerned” about the reports and promised to investigate them all. “We understand that in some circumstances our customers might misuse the system,” he said.

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