In December 2020, the Citizen Lab published the latest in an ongoing series of reports detailing the suspected use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware against civil society. The reporttitled The Great iPwn: Journalists Hacked with Suspected NSO Group iMessage ‘Zero-Click’ Exploit (“The Great iPwn”)described the suspected use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware against 36 journalists with Al Jazeera and a journalist with Al Araby TV.

After publishing this report, the Citizen Lab received an inquiry from NSO Group seeking additional information regarding the individuals targeted. We suggested to NSO Group that the company reach out directly to the institutions and individuals discussed in The Great iPwn if they sought further information. We also underlined (as did a coalition of human rights organizations) that there was no reason to consider that NSO Group would take its responsibility to respect human rights seriously and identified multiple concerns with NSO Group’s existing practices.

In its most recent response to the Citizen Lab regarding the The Great iPwn report, NSO Group extended an invitation to meet and discuss the Citizen Lab’s concerns and NSO Group’s “program” in more detail. We do not believe this invitation is made in good faith and have declined. Here’s why: 

  • NSO Group continues to ignore or evade questions posed to the company by the Citizen Lab and other organizations regarding the company’s practices; 
  • NSO Group has failed to address and engage with the Citizen Lab’s research findings regarding the use of NSO Group’s technology against civil society targets (e.g., journalists and human rights defenders); and,
  • NSO Group has failed to take responsibility or provide a remedy in response to recorded cases of abuse.

Further, the Citizen Lab is a public research institution with a strong commitment to transparency. Accepting an invitation to private discussions with a notorious spyware company would do a disservice to the many individuals targeted with NSO Group’s spyware who are entitled to a remedy and a public response from the company regarding how it has addressed human rights violations.

For ease of reference, a complete list of correspondence between the Citizen Lab and NSO Group and Novalpina Capital to date is available here