PROJECT PEGASUS: ISRAEL GOVERNMENT RAIDS NSO OFFICES

An NSO spokesperson expressed confidence that the inspection will demonstrate that the facts are as the company has repeatedly stated in response to false allegations made against them in recent media attacks.

Following reports by a group of media sources that the surveillance software vendor’s Pegasus spyware was used by multiple governments around the world to spy on public figures and opposition leaders, Israeli authorities raided the offices of NSO Group ( NSO standing for Niv, Shalev, and Omri – the names of the company’s founders). 

On Wednesday, Israeli authorities conducted the raids in the offices of NSO Group.

WHAT IS PEGASUS?

Pegasus is a piece of spyware created by a private contractor for government agencies to use. The program infiltrates the phone of the target and sends back data such as photos, messages, and audio/video recordings. According to Pegasus’ developer, an Israeli company called NSO Group, the fact that software can’t be traced back to the government, makes it an unmatched weapon for running covert operations.

NSO Group, in a nutshell, creates products that allow governments to spy on citizens. On its website, the company claims that its products aid “government intelligence and law-enforcement agencies in using technology to meet the challenges of encryption” during terrorism and criminal investigations. However, as you might expect, civil liberties organizations aren’t happy with the spyware-for-hire business, and restricting it to government clients doesn’t do much to alleviate their concerns.

ISRAEL GOVERNMENT RAIDS NSO OFFICES

“Representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Defense visited their offices,” an NSO spokesperson told Israeli news website ‘The Record.’

“With the Israeli authorities, the company works in complete transparency. We are confident that this inspection will show the facts are as the company has stated repeatedly in response to the false allegations made against us in recent media attacks,” the spokesperson continued.

PEGASUS SPYWARE INFECTED OVER 300 PHONE NUMBERS IN INDIA

Pegasus spyware was recently discovered to have targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India, including those of Narendra Modi government ministers, various Top officials, a constitutional authority, and several journalists and businesspeople, according to a global collaborative investigative project.

It enlisted the phone numbers of Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel and Railways and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. The government has denied allegations surrounding the Pegasus spyware being used to spy on politicians, journalists, and constitutional authority, despite facing massive outrage from opposition parties. The report has also been dubbed “sensational” and an attempt “to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions,” as per reports.

However, Amnesty International, which was part of the investigation team, issued a statement refuting the government’s claims and stating that it “categorically supports” the investigation’s findings. Amnesty International categorically supports the Pegasus Project’s findings and believes that the data is unequivocally associated with potential Pegasus spyware targets. According to them, the propagation of false rumors on social media is intended to divert attention away from the Pegasus Project’s revelations about pervasive unlawful targeting of journalists, activists, and others.