CEO of Israel's NSO Group Shalev Hulio listens during an interview with Reuters at Bloomfield Stadium, in Tel Aviv, Israel on June 8, 2020. CPJ and other groups have asked the company to act on its commitments to prevent spyware products from undermining press freedom and human rights. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

CPJ joins letter urging NSO to act on commitments to curb spyware abuse

The Committee to Protect Journalists and eight other civil society groups today co-signed an open letter asking the Israel-based NSO Group company to deliver on its commitments to improve transparency about sales of its advanced spyware, and due diligence to protect human rights.

Research by CPJ and other organizations indicates that the company’s Pegasus product has been used to target numerous journalists and those close to them around the world. In comments provided to CPJ and the media in the past, NSO has said that Pegasus is only licensed to government agencies investigating crime and terrorism, and that the company investigates allegations of misuse.

The letter notes that commitments to respect human rights that NSO and Novalpina Capital, NSO Group’s Europe-based financial partner, made in earlier correspondence with civil society groups, including CPJ, remain unfulfilled.

The letter also asks NSO to clarify past statements about the company’s oversight over Pegasus usage. An NSO official has said that the company checked its systems to confirm that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was not a target before his murder by Saudi operatives in 2018, but NSO has separately said that it can’t access information about individual targets, according to the letter.   

Read the full letter.

Editor’s note: The first paragraph and links to the letter have been updated to reflect an additional signatory.