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PEGASUSISS World terminy 2021 20228 DECEMBER, 2021

The ISS World Europe Europe security conference is currently underway in Prague, presenting "methodologies and tools for law enforcement, public safety, government and private sector intelligence communities to combat drug trafficking, cyber money laundering, human trafficking or terrorism." The main sponsor is the controversial Israeli firm NSO Group, responsible for the Pegasus spying software used by authoritarian governments to eavesdrop on journalists, political opponents, activists and even the civilian parents of the 50 murdered Mexican students. Investigation.cz reporters were denied access to the conference after the Pegasus case was published.


Crime prediction software

PEGASUS SoftwareEverything you post on Facebook, who you interact with most often on social media, or who you follow on Instagram can help police determine whether you have committed or are planning to commit a crime. This is made possible by technologies that analyse social media data to solve and predict crimes. But it raises questions about privacy and ethical breaches among experts and the public. Moreover, technology can very easily label anyone as an extremist. Voyager's software is one such technology. Minority Report Voyager Labs collects information ... Continue reading


The sponsorship of a security conference by NSO Group, the scandalous maker of the Pegasus eavesdropping software, is surprising. Journalists associated with the Pegasus project, coordinated by the French organization Forbidden Stories, of which investigace.cz was a member, exposed the massive abuse of Pegasus software, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, in a series of articles this summer. The system was aimed at eavesdropping on people who had nothing to do with terrorism, organized crime or money laundering. On the contrary, often, as in the case in Mexico, the people being spied on were themselves victims of the drug mafias.

The Pegasus software is classified as a 'weapon' in terms of exports and is therefore subject to special conditions of sale, which means that only government agencies can purchase it. It is software that controls a mobile phone without the owner's knowledge: for example, it can turn on a speakerphone, a camera, read encrypted messages directly from the display. Pegasus software uses so-called "zero point exploits", vulnerabilities in code such as Apple's iMessages messaging software, to infect the phone. It is for this reason that Apple recently sued NSO and sent out messages and emails to people with infected devices about suspicions that their phone may have been hacked.

According to our data, more than 180 journalists from countries such as Hungary, Azerbaijan, Mexico and Saudi Arabia were also among the victims of this spying. In certain cases, the Pegasus software has been used to identify the opportune moment to assassinate one of these journalists.

However, it was not only journalists and activists, but also high-ranking civil servants or presidents, such as the incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron and fifteen other French government officials who were to be wiretapped by the Moroccan government.


Governments spied on journalists, activists and dissidents with spyware

Israeli software that can remotely control your mobile phone. Without the owner's knowledge, turn on your microphone to eavesdrop, download photos, read your private messages, use your camera. Governments around the world have abused this eavesdropping program to eavesdrop on inconvenient people. Like independent journalists in Orban's Hungary. Or the Mexican mom looking for her missing son. All these people have one thing in common - they were victims of a spying system that could have been ordered on their opponents by any government that paid the Israeli firm NSO Group. The software ... Continue read1ing


In India, which was one of the countries where Pegasus was almost the most abused, protests erupted after the case was made public, and the Indian Supreme Court ordered an investigation into the case. "No other case in recent years has put as much pressure on the government as Pegasus," said Indian journalist Siddharth Varadarajan of the local investigative media outlet The Wire. To date, NSO's use of spying software is still under investigation in Israel, Hungary, Pakistan, and Algeria. In the US, NSO has been added to the trade sanctions list.

"NSO Group was added to the list of entities based on evidence that it developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments, which used the tool to launch dangerous spying attacks on government officials, journalists, businessmen, activists, academics and embassy staff. The tool also enabled foreign governments to carry out transnational repression, a practice of authoritarian governments that target dissidents, journalists and activists outside their sovereign borders to silence dissent. Such practices threaten an international order based on certain rules," the US Department of Commerce report said. The report forced the acting head of the NSO Group to resign just 11 days after he took office.

The current Mexican president has decided to release all government documentation related to NSO and their Pegasus software. In fact, several dozen members of his presidential election team were wiretapped by his political rival. The President is therefore calling for an immediate moratorium on the sale and export of spying technology.

Despite the mounting evidence, NSO continues to deny any wrongdoing: 'NSO Group denies the false statements made in the Pegasus project. Many of them are unconfirmed theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability of your sources and also about the substance of your case," the company wrote. "Your sources have provided you with information that has no factual basis, as evidenced by the lack of supporting documentation for many of the allegations."

Meanwhile, evidence and legal action is mounting that NSO Group did indeed misbehave by freely selling its spying software. Among other things, it is being sued by Apple for misusing their software such as iMessage to hack phones.

"Apple today filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company to hold them accountable for spying on and targeting users of Apple products. Our lawsuit takes into account new findings about how NSO Group controlled mobile devices using Pegasus software," reads a statement from Apple published on their website.

Investace.cz contributor Josef Šlerka wanted to register for the ISS World Europe conference shortly after the Pegasus case broke, on July 23, 2021, using an invitation code provided by the conference organizers. The registration went well and Josef Šlerka received a confirmation e-mail. Three days later, however, the conference organisers, TeleStrategies, cancelled his registration without giving any reason.

Tatiana Lucas of TeleStrategies responded to questions about whether the organisers of the ISS World Europe conference had ever considered cancelling their main partnership with the NSO Group, whose software has been used to eavesdrop on opposition politicians, presidents, journalists and activists:

"Unfortunately we cannot give you access to our ISS World program. This is because our ISS World programs provide training to intelligence agencies and are designed for law enforcement, defense and security agencies. Participants who are on active duty here receive training on the latest Hi-Tech investigative techniques to combat organized crime, cyber money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorism." Whether training in the use of Pegasus software is on the agenda remained unanswered.


Pavla Holcová

Forbidden stories

Author of introductory graphics: Forbidden stories


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