UN experts call for moratorium on spyware sales

After the recent wiretapping scandal related to Israeli software Pegasus, the UN is waiting for action. Experts demanded, Thursday, August 12, an international moratorium on the sale of surveillance technologies, pending the establishment of a regulatory framework guaranteeing human rights.

In mid-July, an investigation revealed that the Pegasus software had made it possible to spy on the numbers of at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 human rights activists and 65 business leaders from different countries. According to this survey, published by a consortium of 17 international media, including The world, this software was developed by the Israeli company NSO Group.

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“We are deeply concerned that very sophisticated intrusive tools are being used to monitor, intimidate and silence human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents”, said UN experts, quoted in a statement.

“Such practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, privacy and liberty, can endanger the lives of hundreds of people, endanger media freedom and undermine democracy, peace, security and international cooperation ”, they added.

Israel urged to act

The communiqué is signed by three UN special rapporteurs, including the one on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, and the Working Group on the Rights of the man and transnational corporations and other businesses.

“In recent years, we have repeatedly sounded the alarm bells about the danger that surveillance technologies pose to human rights. Once again, we urge the international community to develop a strong regulatory framework to prevent, mitigate and remedy the negative impact of surveillance technologies on human rights and, in the meantime, to adopt a moratorium on their sale and transfer ”, they said.

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Journalistic work on Pegasus is based on a list of 50,000 phone numbers selected by NSO clients since 2016, obtained by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International. UN experts urge Israel “To fully disclose the steps it has taken to review NSO’s export transactions in light of its own human rights obligations”.

“It is the duty of States to verify that companies like NSO Group do not sell or transfer technologies to States and entities likely to use them to violate human rights or do not enter into contracts with them”, they insist.

The World with AFP