The rights group warns of “the devastating effects of the poorly regulated spyware industry on human rights worldwide”.
Allegations that Governments used phone malware Supplied by an Israeli company to spy on journalists, activists and heads of state have “exposed a global human rights crisis,” Amnesty International said, calling for a moratorium on the sale and use of surveillance technology.
In a statement on Friday, the NGO warned of “the devastating impact of the poorly regulated spyware industry on human rights worldwide”.
The NSO Group’s Pegasus software, which is able to turn on a phone’s camera or microphone and collect its data, is at the center of a storm after a list of around 50,000 potential rights group surveillance targets has been leaked.
Amnesty International and the French non-profit media organization Forbidden Stories worked with several media outlets, including the Washington Post, the Guardian and Le Monde, to analyze and publish the list.
French President Emmanuel Macronwho was on the list of suspected targets had to change his phone and number.
“It shows not only the risk and harm for the illegally attacked people, but also the extremely destabilizing consequences for global human rights and the security of the digital environment as a whole,” said Amnesty Secretary General Agnes Callamard in the statement.
The Israeli group NSO “is just a company”.
“This is a dangerous industry that has operated on the edge of legality for too long, and it can’t go on like this,” she said.
“Now we urgently need stronger regulation of the cyber-surveillance industry, accountability for human rights violations and abuses, and better oversight of this shadow industry.”
Amnesty called for an immediate moratorium on the export, sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology “until a regulatory framework in line with human rights is in place”.
“The fact that world and other political leaders are themselves caught in the crosshairs of spyware technology will hopefully serve as a long overdue wake-up call for them and states around the world to step up and regulate this industry,” Callamard said.
The list of alleged targets includes at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 human rights defenders and 65 business leaders.
NSO insists that its software is for use only in the fight against terrorism and other crimes and is exported to 45 countries with the permission of the Israeli government.