UK Govt. hosts NSO Group at closed trade show following allegations of spyware technology being used to target human rights activists

The UK Home Office announced on 6 February 2020 that NSO Group would be one of 300 firms invited to exhibit their products at the three-day, closed trade show. This is following allegations against NSO Group that its technology was used to target human rights activists and reporters around the world. NSO Group has denied these allegations. Civil Society, government officials including the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression have spoken out against the Home Office's decision. 

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Article
10 February 2020

UK Govt. to host NSO Group at closed trade fair; company's spyware allegedly used to target human rights activists

Author: Solomon Hughes, Rob Evans and Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian (UK)

"UK to host spyware firm accused of aiding human rights abuses", 6 Feb 2020

The British government is helping a controversial Israeli spyware company to market its surveillance technologies at a secretive trade fair visited by repressive regimes, the Guardian can reveal... The government will host the NSO Group, which sells technology that has allegedly been used by autocratic regimes to spy on the private messages of journalists and human rights activists, at the closed Security and Policing trade fair... NSO has faced allegations that its technology is used to target human rights activists and reporters around the world... NSO has denied the allegation[s]... [NSO] says it is “committed to the proper use of its technology to help governments strengthen public safety and protect against major security threats”... Martyn Day, a lawyer [...] said: “Unless the government is prepared to take a stand and make it clear that it is inappropriate for such software to be sold to oppressive regimes then we are nothing short of colluding with those very regimes in their oppression of dissidents... A Home Office spokesperson said...: “The government will do all it can to help keep British people and British interests safe in the UK and overseas”.

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Article
10 February 2020

UN rapporteur condemns UK hosting of Israeli spyware firm

Author: Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Rob Evans and Solomon Hughes, The Guardian (UK)

David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression... said democratic governments “should be outraged and should develop global standards for the exports of.. tools” that respected the rule of law and human rights... NSO Group will be among 300 firms that will exhibit their products at the three-day [trade] event...  Kaye said: “Hosting trade fairs for the industry without disclosing steps taken to evaluate the human rights records of participants sends exactly the wrong message.” Ron Deibert, the director of the Citizen Lab... said instead of hosting surveillance companies “to sell the very tools dictators have abused to illicitly spy on people living in their own country, governments that purport to uphold the rule of law and human rights – like the United Kingdom – should be taking immediate legal and policy measures… to rein it in”... The NSO Group has denied [the] allegations... [T]he Home Office said :”The government will do all it can to help keep British people and British interests safe in the UK and overseas.”... Rebecca Vincent, the head of the UK arm of ... Reporters without Borders, said: “The UK government should take a stand in demanding greater transparency and accountability of the surveillance industry, not hosting NSO at this event whilst continuing to turn a blind eye to its dubious practices.”

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