Pegasus is one of the most advanced spyware known. And the most dangerous. Although it has been sold (very, very expensive, and sometimes paid for by taxpayers) for years as a solution for government use “against terrorism and big crime”the truth is that he has spied on ‘everything that has moved’ on the Net. A few terrorists and criminals and many citizens.
Its developer, the Israeli company NSO Group, only seems to have been interested in revenue. He who has been able to pay for it, has had it. In this way, under the umbrella of ‘security’, Pegasus has been used to violate all kinds of rights against journalists, organizations, dissidents, politicians (including 13 heads of state), academics or any other target. And not just digital rights. Amnesty International’s “Project Pegasus” demonstrated how it was used as a “virtual weapon” to assassinate Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
And all kinds of misdeeds among the more than 50,000 identified targets. And those, the acquaintances. It has also been used to distribute malware, serious exploits in Microsoft or Facebook products such as WhatsApp. And it is impossible to leave this type of development out of the clutches of precisely those who claim to fight.
Pegasus on the ropes
Dozens of governments have used it for all kinds of tasks. Although they are not free from accusations of hypocrisy, they are finally trying to put a stop to it. The same authorities of the state of Israel said that their activities should be investigated (how will it be) and the Americans ask that NSO Group be sanctioned. EU officials are now going further and have proposed their total ban.
That is the main conclusion of a new memo published by EPDS, the European data watchdog. The regulator considers that a total ban in the entire region is the only adequate response to the «unprecedented risks» that this technology poses, not only for people and devices but «to democracy and the rule of law«.
«Since the specific technical characteristics of spyware tools like Pegasus make control over their use very difficult, we have to rethink the entire existing system of safeguards put in place to protect our fundamental rights and freedoms.» says a very harsh report that qualifies Pegasus as a paradigm shift in terms of access to communications and private devices, “incompatible with our democratic values”.
Better late than never…. Some European Union states have used this spyware for their own benefit and have known of its potential for a decade. Undoubtedly, governments and security forces need digital tools against the “bad guys”, but the use of Pegasus has been disgraceful and against the citizens themselves.