A woman checks the website of Israel-made Pegasus spyware at an office in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on July 21, 2021. (AFP/Mario Goldman)

CPJ joins call for moratorium on surveillance technology targeting journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists this week joined more than 150 human rights groups and independent experts in calling on states to implement an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer, and use of surveillance technology following revelations that NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware has been used to spy on journalists around the world.

The Pegasus Project, an investigation released July 18 by Forbidden Stories with the support of Amnesty International in collaboration with 16 media organizations around the world, identified at least 180 journalists in 20 countries as potential surveillance targets by clients of NSO Group. According to the letter, NSO says it sells only to government clients. NSO has repeatedly told CPJ in the past that it licenses Pegasus to fight crime and terrorism.

CPJ has documented how spyware is being sold to governments with poor press freedom records and is used to target journalists and those close to them. The Pegasus Project reporting expands the known number of countries that may target journalists with spyware.

As journalists rely on mobile devices to communicate with sources and publish news, spyware threatens their ability to do so privately and securely, and therefore threatens the public’s right to access information. CPJ has called on governments to bar the use of spyware against journalists and media outlets, and establish legal frameworks to regulate its sale, transfer, and use.

The joint statement can be found here.