An Israeli firm accused of supplying spyware to authoritarian governments has been linked to a list of 50,000 smartphone numbers, including those of activists, journalists, business executives and politicians around the world, according to reports Sunday.
Israel’s NSO Group and its Pegasus malware has been in the headlines since at least 2016 when researchers accused it of helping spy on a dissident in the United Arab Emirates.
Sunday’s revelations raise privacy and rights concerns and reveal the far-reaching extent to which the private Israeli company’s software may be being used by its clients internationally.
The extent of the use of Pegasus was reported by The Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde and other news outlets who collaborated on an investigation into a data leak.
The leak was of a list of more than 50,000 smartphone numbers believed to have been identified as people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016, the media outlets said.
The Post said the list was shared with the news organizations by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism nonprofit, and Amnesty International. The newspaper said the total number of phones on the list that were actually targeted or surveilled is unknown.
The Post said 15,000 of the numbers on the list were in Mexico and included those of politicians, union representatives, journalists and government critics.