jeudi 16 avril 2020

Will EU and pandemic pave way for Israeli global surveillance?

L'UE et la pandémie ouvriront-elles la voie à une surveillance mondiale israélienne?

Ali Abunimah 
Israeli defense minister Naftali Bennett, left, with EU ambassador Emanuele Giaufret 
in 2017. Bennett is now hoping other countries will buy a coronavirus tracking system made
 by an Israeli spy firm implicated in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (via Twitter)

The coronavirus pandemic is a priceless opportunity for governments and spy firms to expand their reach into people’s lives.

Public health authorities say effective contact tracing will be crucial to ending broad lockdowns and quickly halting new outbreaks of the virus, at least until a vaccine is developed.

That means surveillance technologies promising to quickly identify anyone exposed to the virus may indeed find a global market. The danger is that this kind of intrusive surveillance will become permanent.

One firm looking to capitalize on this opportunity is Israel’s notorious NSO Group.

This is the company that produces malware called Pegasus that can be surreptitiously inserted onto a target’s mobile phone.

It can then be used to funnel back almost any private information to those doing the spying, including recordings, screenshots, passwords and email and text messages.

Israel’s vaunted tech industry has deep ties to the country’s military and intelligence apparatus, which uses Palestinians under military occupation as unwilling guinea pigs for systems that are then marketed to other countries.

It now appears that European governments are ready to embrace the fruit of this abusive and oppressive structure on the pretext of fighting the pandemic.

NSO Group’s Pegasus, which is only sold to governments, has been misused against journalists and human rights activists in dozens of countries. Suspected operators include Morocco, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kazakhstan.

Pegasus has also been implicated in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist lured to his country’s Istanbul consulate in 2018 and brutally murdered and dismembered.

Amnesty International, whose staff were targeted with NSO Group malware, is suing the company to stop its role in abusive surveillance.

Facebook is also suing NSO Group for allegedly compromising its WhatsApp messaging platform to help governments spy on some 1,400 people on four continents.

“Cynical attempt”

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