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Amnesty Urges Moratorium on Surveillance Technology in Pegasus Scandal

NGO Amnesty International has called for a moratorium on surveillance technology produced by an Israeli firm used against a long list of journalists, activists, and heads of state. The spyware called Pegasus, and 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. The software is made by NSO Group, an Israeli-based firm. The spyware allows the attacker to switch on a phone’s camera or microphone and harvest essentially all of the data held on the phone.

The spyware remains at the center of a huge controversy after a list of 50,000 potential surveillance targets was leaked to human rights groups. Amnesty International and French media nonprofit Forbidden Stories were two groups who were granted access to the list, then collaborating with a series of media companies such as the Washington Post and Guardian. French President Emmanuel Macron appears on the list of alleged targets. Macron ultimately had to change his phone and number as a result of the threat of potential compromisation due to the spyware. Amnesty stated in a Friday announcement that the spyware poses a threat to individuals targeted, however, the industry itself has operated on the brink of illegality for far too long. Amnesty is seeking the establishment of a human-rights compliant regulatory framework regarding spyware.

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