Mexico, NSO Group, Israel, and Spying via Pegasus: The New Enemies of the State?

Chika Mori and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of Mexico, according to various sources, is now allegedly spying on individuals that seek to inform based on investigative journalism, tackle corruption, or who seek to defend human rights in this nation. Spyware being used comes from a cyber arms company in Israel called the NSO Group. However, the NSO Group sold its spyware based on being aimed at drug cartels, terrorist activity, and powerful crime syndicates. Yet, it appears that central authorities are equally focused on activists who tackle corruption, journalists, lawyers focused on human rights, academics who delve into important areas, and other individuals that are well outside the remit provided by the NSO Group.

Software provided by the NSO Group that is being purchased is known by the name of Pegasus. Of course, with Israel being a nation that utilizes state of the art technology in relation to cyber arms and cyber technology – and other related areas – then federal agencies from Mexico were attracted to the market of this nation.

Indeed, Israel is fearful of various terrorist groups that focus on this nation in relation to the “Palestinian question,” internal terrorism including Hamas, international terrorist groups, possible espionage, cyber attacks, and other important areas. Hence, the government of Israel focuses on sophisticated areas in relation to cyber technology, in order to stay one-step ahead. Therefore, it is natural that nations like Mexico seek to utilize a plethora of powerful entities, including the NSO Group.

It is known that Pegasus software can monitor and infiltrate smartphones. The New York Times reports, Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person’s cellular life — calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target’s smartphone into a personal bug.”

According to the NSO Group, its powerful technology is aimed exclusively at responsible national governments. The remit of the NSO Group is aimed at potent criminal syndicates, drug cartels, terrorism and terrorist activity, and other important areas related to the national security of respective governments. Hence, the NSO Group seeks Pegasus to be aimed at these areas – and not areas related to civil liberties.

In other words, the central government of Mexico appears to be bypassing Mexican law. This is based on the need of a federal judge in Mexico to authorize Pegasus to spy on individuals or groups. Yet, with academics, activists who tackle political corruption, investigative journalists, and lawyers focused on human rights being targeted by Pegasus, then federal judges wouldn’t sanction authorization of this. Therefore, serious questions must be raised because the state apparatus of Mexico is out of control based on serious allegations being made, in relation to spying on individuals that seek to uphold the law.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/world/americas/mexico-spyware-anticrime.html

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