In a letter to the United Nations, dated September 30, the company – which is mired in a multi-national spying controversy – reportedly called for an “international legal framework” to prevent the abuse of technology that allows governments to snoop on personal phones and devices.
NSO Group also suggested the UN take the lead in instituting international rules to monitor the booming private-sector surveillance industry. In particular, the company recommended that firms in the sector be required to implement human rights compliance systems.
The letter, seen by AFP, was seemingly in response to a warning from UN human rights experts who in August called the surveillance technology and trade sector a “human rights-free zone” and urged a global moratorium on the sale of such technology until “robust regulations” were in place.
That warning came after a leaked list of as many as 52,000 phone numbers in July revealed the extent of surveillance by NSO Group’s customers using the now-infamous Pegasus flagship malware. Roughly a tenth of these targets were reportedly spied on using the program, which granted users access to calls, messages, photos and files, and allowed them to secretly turn on the target phones’ cameras and microphones.
The people reportedly presumed to have been placed under digital surveillance included business executives, religious figures, academics, journalists, NGO workers, trade union and government officials, including even cabinet ministers, presidents and prime ministers.