The infamous Israeli surveillance ware vendor NSO Group accepted that five countries used its Pegasus tool. The acceptance was in response to a question asked by European Union lawmakers.
“We’re trying to do the right thing and that’s more than other companies working in the industry,” Chaim Gelfand, the company’s general counsel and chief compliance officer, said, according to a report from Politico.
The company conceded that it “made mistakes” and underscored the need for an international standard that regulates the government use of spyware.
The details came out as part of an investigation by a special inquiry committee on alleged breaches of E.U law. The investigation was launched after news about the company’s Pegasus spyware being used to snoop on phones belonging to politicians, diplomats, and civil society members came to light.
“The committee is going to look into existing national laws regulating surveillance, and whether Pegasus spyware was used for political purposes against, for example, journalists, politicians and lawyers,” the European Parliament said in March 2022.
“The use of Pegasus does not require cooperation with telecommunication companies, and it can easily overcome encryption, SSL, proprietary protocols, and any hurdle introduced by the complex communications worldwide,” the Council of Europe noted in an interim report.
“It provides remote, covert, and unlimited access to the target’s mobile devices. This Modus Operandi of the Pegasus clearly reveals its capacity to be used for targeted as well as indiscriminate surveillance.”
NSO Group, founded in 2010, for a long time denied supplying software to governments for keeping tabs on political opponents, critics, activists, journalists, lawyers across the world. It has always said that the group only supplies software to government customers for tackling terrorism, drug trafficking and serious crime.