In early June 2018, an Amnesty International staff member received a suspicious WhatsApp message in Arabic. The text contained details about an alleged protest outside the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C., followed by a link to a website. Investigations by Amnesty International’s technology team revealed that clicking the link would have, according to prior knowledge, installed “Pegasus”, a sophisticated surveillance tool developed by the Israel-based company NSO Group.
Like many other Israeli startups in the security field, NSO was founded in 2010 by three veterans of the army’s premier signals intelligence unit, 8200: Niv Carmi, Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. They started work on Pegasus, which remains NSO’s only product, immediately after founding the company.
(12.September 2014) We take advantage of the capabilities that we have over these people in order to put ourselves at ease. We take advantage of the impact that we have on their lives. Sometimes it involves truly harming a person’s life, or their soul. I mean extortion whereby they must hide things from people around them. It can really screw up their lives. It made me feel omnipotent.