In 2021 the Pegasus Project, an international coalition of investigative
journalists and reporters unveiled, a massive surveillance scandal
detailing the targeting of journalists, human rights defenders, and
political oppositions in many countries, through the use of Pegasus, a
mobile spyware sold by the company NSO Group. These abuses not only have ignited a global debate on the dangers of the unchecked use of spyware, but prompted the European Parliament to launch a committee of inquiry, companies like WhatsApp and Apple to take legal actions against NSO, and investigators to continue discovering a growing number of abuses. Since the launch of Pegasus Project, numerous more cases have been discovered, including the targeting of political oppositions, European government officials, members of the European Parliament and even heads of state.
While the digital rights and human rights communities have been
documenting cases of targeting of journalists and activists for over a
decade, the recent discoveries propelled the issue at the top of the
political agenda. The unprecedented scale of this scandal highlights how
a single spyware product like Pegasus can pose such a grave threat to
human rights, democratic freedoms, a free press, and even national
sovereignty all at once. What's even more alarming is that Pegasus is
only one of many products marketed by a lucrative, secretive, yet
severely under-regulated industry.
So, what do we know about this industry now? What threats does it pose?
And what can be done now?