Seminar on the Pegasus program and its role in the violation of human rights

Global Rights Watch (GRW) has organized an online seminar on 19 August 2021, about the Pegasus software and its role in human rights violations.

The organization used to fight injustice, unfair policies, violence, and the violation of human rights by addressing various topics and raising awareness in an attempt to reduce and even eliminate all such violations.

The seminar was held at 8 p.m. on 19 August 2021. Participants discussed the Israeli state’s development of its cyber capabilities, primarily the social media spy and telephone communication program known as Pegasus, produced by the Israeli company NSO Group. The use of this software from many countries around the world has seriously damaged many institutions and media personalities worldwide, such as spying on French President Emmanuel Macron’s phone, tapping Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ talks, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashqji, and many other issues worldwide.

In his speech, Mr. Michael Isikov, Senior Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo News,  said that the main official responsible for this violation was the country that abused this technique like Saudi Arabia, which used the program to spy on journalists and dissenters like Jamal Khashoggi, which has been killed. Mr. Isikoff said too that trial must begin with these governments that misused the program designated to monitor criminals and terrorists. He added that Saudi Arabia used Twitter before using Pegasus to monitor and track opponents’ phones to follow the activists.

In his speech, Dr. Walid Gilad, a cyber security specialist, talked about the gravity of cyber warfare and its use between states. He also addressed how Pegasus operates and how is dangerous to spy, first it scans the target device, then prove the necessary module for reading user’s messages and emails, listening to calls, taking pictures of the screen, recording key clicks, pulling the Internet browser log, and contacts. To reduce targeting, we always have to delete important messages and capture the Internet when necessary.

In his speech, Dr. Farid Abu Deheir, Professor of Information and Journalism at the National University of Najah, referred to the importance of journalists’ role and social activists in illuminating violations of human rights. He insisted on the fact that Israel allowed NSO to sell its products to countries that violated human rights, such as Saudi Arabia. He also criticized the reactions of the media and the press in the Arab world that merely told the news while voices rose in America and Western countries demanding punishment for the perpetrators.

In her speech, Dr. Marwa Fatha, Director of Public Policy for Shabaka, said that spying programs have been used to facilitate massive human rights violations in various parts of the world. Among the targets of this espionage are heads of state, activists, journalists, including the family of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and journalist Mohammad Mansour in Bahrain. She added that the product has been sold not only to dictatorial states but also to democratic countries such as India, Spain, and Mexico.

Dr. Fatafta also stressed that trade control of such programs must be tightened until global controls defining trafficking were in place.

At the end of the seminar, the speakers called for the need to establish Global control and legal framework for the marketing of such programs, which “violate human rights if misused.

They also demanded intervention of international jurisdiction because of the damage that sometimes causes the murder of innocent individuals and social activists.

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