The Information Controls Fellowship Program (ICFP) from the Open Technology Fund (OTF) supports research into how governments in countries, regions, or areas of OTF’s core focus are restricting the free flow of information, cutting access to the open Internet, and implementing censorship mechanisms, thereby threatening the ability of global citizens to exercise basic human rights and democracy; work focused on mitigation of such threats is also supported.
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Two days after the murder of award-winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas, two of his colleagues began receiving text messages laden with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. To date, 24 targets of Pegasus have been identified in Mexico. This case additionally illustrates an alarming trend of spyware attacks around the world specifically aimed at journalists.
Following a Citizen Lab report that identified the presence of NSO’s Pegasus spyware technology in Quebec, researchers contacted Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi Arabian dissident and Canadian permanent resident who has long been critical of the regime in Riyadh. After an extensive investigation, they discovered that his phone had been targeted with this powerful spyware and the operators of the technology were linked to Saudi Arabia’s government and security services.