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The NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware: A Global Update

Since our expanded coverage in July of last year of Pegasus Project – a cadre of global news organization’s exhaustive investigation of the Pegasus “zero click” surveillance software – there have been many developments related to the spyware, including legal, national security and geopolitical activities pointed directly at the NSO Group (the Israel-based developer of the Pegasus Software).

In late July 2021, days after our initial coverage and in response to the findings of the global investigation, Israeli authorities “opened an investigation into the Israeli company and officials from multiple different agencies within the Israeli government visited NSO Group’s offices as part of the new investigation – amid claims that the firm is selling its powerful spyware to threat actors who then commit targeted attacks.  According to media reports, Israeli agents visited the NSO Group’s offices in Herzliya, which is located near the city of Tel Aviv.”

That same week, Amnesty International urged for a moratorium on the surveillance technology “used against a long list of journalists, activists, and heads of state…its usage have exposed a global human rights crisis, according to Amnesty. The NGO is now warning against the devastating impact of the poorly regulated spyware industry on human rights and urging for a moratorium on the sale and use of Pegasus and similar tech.”

Stateside, NSO Group Blacklisted and Spyware Coverage Hits Mainstream

By December 2021, the WSJ was reporting that the NSO Group was exploring the sale and closure of its Pegasus unit, in response to the company’s addition to the US Commerce Department’s “Entity List” in November, “becoming the fourth spyware developer to join the list.  The list is used to restrict companies thought to pose a risk to the US’s national security or foreign policy.”

Over the last five to six months, coverage of the spyware and the NSO Group has gone from the specialized, independent reportage represented by the Pegasus Project to major investigative resources dedicated to the story by the likes of the New Yorker and the New York Times.

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Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira is research director at OODA. He is a foresight strategist, creative technologist, and an information communication technology (ICT) and digital media researcher with 20+ years of experience directing public/private partnerships and strategic innovation initiatives.