The NSO uses zero-day exploits to develop spyware for iPhone and Android smartphones, allowing its customers to read text messages and emails, monitor contacts and calls, track locations, collect passwords and even call the smartphone microphone to record meetings.
In 2019, it was discovered that a tool called Pegasus could silently collect all iCloud data from a target's phone. Pegasus is also said to be behind a text-enabled hack of iPhones owned by Al Jazeera journalists.
Amnesty International tried last year to block spyware exports, but was unsuccessful.
According to a report prepared by Bloomberg, a new research database of human rights groups accuses the NSO Group of providing technology to governments to spy on dozens of journalists, activists and lawyers and also claims that the product is linked to acts of violence, including harassment, intimidation and murder.
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A database released Saturday by Amnesty International, Citizen Lab and Forensic Architecture documents more than 60 cases where NSO spyware has been used to target dissidents and government critics from countries such as Rwanda, Togo, Spain, UAE, Arabia Arabia, Mexico, Morocco and India.
The report is based on an analysis of legal files, interviews with alleged victims, export licenses, news and purchase records.
Copyright groups claim that the government's use of NSO spyware is "consistently tangled up with a spectrum of physical violations," including arrests, assaults and even murders, in the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose associates were allegedly targeted by the use Saudi Arabia before his assassination in October 2018.
The NSO denied that its technology was used to target Khashoggi. The group said its tool is valuable in preventing terrorism and curbing violent crime and says it already refuses to sell its spyware to 55 countries and is investigating allegations of abuse.
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