L l 'last year saw the military spending world's highest - nearly $ 2 billion - since 1988. More than half of this spending was spentenses of the United States and its allies. Defense capabilities are closely watched national assets. A network of rules has developed around However, there is at least 500 private companies that operate, largely unregulated, and sell intrusive software to oppressive regimes that spy on and harass their detractors. These undemocratic acts should be enough to put an end to this trade. However, this continued; the industry claims that these tools are intended to fight crime and terrorism. What happens when, instead, governments chose to use these abilities not only on their people, but on the democratic West?
We may be about to find the answer to that question. A global reporting consortium, which includes the Guardian Amnesty International and the Paris-based nonprofit Forbidden Stories this week produced a plethora of articles from a pulped list of phone numbers identified by governments clients of NSO, an Israeli high-tech company. Forensic analysis showed that NSO's Pegasus spyware was being used by some of its customers to hack sma rtphones belonging to journalists , dissidents and activists. The phonelaptop of a French minister in office showed digital traces of NSO spyware activity. Paris has opened an investigation.
These phones were on a Emmanuel Macron - and the king of Morocco. The Indian government, suspected of being a customer of NSO, allegedly selected numbers from Tibetan government of the Dalai Lama in exile . Hundreds of phones belonging to British citizens have also been redisturbed, with the government responsible for their selection seen as Britain's ally in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates, which itself has close ties to UK partner Israel . With friends like these, one may wonder what is expected of our opponents? This week Cabinet Minister Office Lord True a stated that the UK has "repeatedly expressed our concerns to the Israeli government about NSO operations ".
NSO states that because it does not operate the spyware systems it sells and does not have access to the data of its customers' targets, the company cannot oversee their use. It is a selfish argument based on the secret of ebusiness. But spyware like NSO's makes it possible to violate fundamental rights. It's a bit rich for Western democracies to complain that China or Russia are exporting digital authoritarianism if its allies sell tools that can serve the same ends.
The power of the State is for software. Israel should crack down on a spyware industry that allows authoritarian regimes to export self-censorship. Global rules are needed to govern the proliferation of these weapons of mass repression: it is in the interests of democracies to limit the diffusion of such technologies. the mechanisms, in addition to bringing legal proceedings , are available to prevent or repairer the serious violations of freedom of expression, association and privacy permitted by tools such as NSO. This must change.