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21 Dec 2020

Citizen Lab report finds clients of cyberespionage company Circles include govts. with a history of surveillance abuses

A new report by the Citizen Lab alleges the surveillance firm Circles, affiliated with NSO Group, has sold surveillance technology to countries with a history of leveraging digital technology for human rights abuses.

The report describes how Circles reportedly sells a technology that exploits weaknesses in the global mobile phone system to surveil phones using as little information as a telephone number. One of the report's authors warns that Circles' exploitation tool could be used without cooperation from a telecoms company, potentially allowing repressive government surveillance agencies to track targets across borders. Clients of the firm, which has said it only sells to nation-states, are considered to include Mexico, Morocco, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

We invited Circles/NSO to respond to the allegations; NSO responded.

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