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USA: blacklisting of NSO Group recognises spyware abuses

NSO was prevented from exhibiting at the International Security Expo in September © Amnesty International

Israeli firm one of four foreign companies added to Department of Commerce list of those engaging in activities ‘contrary’ to US security or foreign policy interests

Pegasus Project investigation showed extent of intrusive spyware misuse

‘NSO Group’s spyware is a tool of repression’ - Danna Ingleton

In response to today’s decision by the US Department of Commerce to place Israeli cyber-surveillance company NSO Group on its “entity list” for malicious cyber activity, Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said:

“With this move, the US government has acknowledged what Amnesty and other activists have been saying for years: NSO Group’s spyware is a tool of repression which has been used around the world to violate human rights. 

“This decision sends a strong message to NSO Group that it can no longer profit from human rights abuses without repercussions.

“This is also a day of reckoning for NSO Group’s investors - will they continue to bankroll a company whose technology has been used to systematically violate human rights?

“The threats posed by surveillance technology are bigger than one company. This dangerous industry is out of control, and this must spell the end of the impunity spyware companies have so far enjoyed. 

“We need an immediate global moratorium on the export, sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology until there is a human rights-compliant regulatory framework in place.”

Pegasus Project

In July this year, the Pegasus Project exposed the global scale of abuses using NSO Group’s “Pegasus” spyware. The investigation was a ground-breaking collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organisations in ten countries, coordinated by Forbidden Stories and with technical support from Amnesty. Amnesty Tech conducted cutting-edge forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the spyware.

In September, NSO was prevented from exhibiting Pegasus at the International Security Expo 2021 at Olympia London after Amnesty wrote to the trade fair’s organisers alerting them to NSO’s track record. 

NSO Group has israe it was “dismayed” by the US Department of Commerce decision and would seek to have it reversed.

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