Governments should decide who gets to buy spyware


Following media accusations that Israel’s police misused NSO Pegasus spyware — which is able to closely monitor mobile phones — against its own citizens, including a state witness in the ongoing trial of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a government investigation recently determined that the police did nothing wrong and acted within the law.

What’s important here is not the outcome of the investigation itself but the fact that Israel investigated the police rather than NSO, a local company that also exports its products. But the police investigation appropriately underlines that the ethical burden of how these tools are used ultimately lies with their direct users and the governments that buy them — or allow them to be exported — and not on the vendors alone.

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