“This is a dangerous industry that has operated on the edges of legality for too long, and this cannot be allowed to continue,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary General said
PARIS — Amnesty International has asked for a moratorium on the sale and use of surveillance technology and warned of “the devastating impact of the poorly regulated spyware industry on human rights worldwide”.
Amnesty said allegations that governments used phone malware supplied by an Israeli firm to spy on journalists, activists and heads of state have “exposed a global human rights crisis.”
Governments across the world are buying and allowing the sale of sophisticated and intrusive surveillance technology that can compromise anybody’s digital devices and monitor their activity. These tools are made and sold by private companies who are making profits at times off human right abuses.
Though governments and companies say that these surveillance tools are only used to target ‘criminals and terrorists’. But in reality, human rights defenders across the world – including an Amnesty International staff member – have been unlawfully targeted with spyware, said Amnesty.
The NSO Group’s Pegasus software — able to switch on a phone’s camera or microphone and harvest its data — is at the centre of a storm after a list of about 50,000 potential surveillance targets was leaked to rights groups.
“Not only does it expose the risk and harm to those individuals unlawfully targeted, but also the extremely destabilising consequences on global human rights and the security of the digital environment at large,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary General, said in a statement.
Israel group NSO “is just one company”. “This is a dangerous industry that has operated on the edges of legality for too long, and this cannot be allowed to continue,” she said.
“Now, we urgently need greater regulation over the cyber surveillance industry, accountability for human rights violations and abuses, and greater oversight over this shadowy industry.”