The widespread use of NSO’s Pegasus spyware is a
wake up call for security on the internet, said WhatsApp head Will Cathcart on Monday. The head of one of the world’s biggest cross-platform
messaging service, Cathcart said that there is a growing need for “more
companies, and, critically, governments, to take steps to hold NSO group
“NSO’s dangerous spyware is used to commit horrible
human rights abuses all around the world and it must be stopped. Human rights
defenders, tech companies and governments must work together and hold the
abusers of the spyware accountable,” Cathcart said.
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Cathcart urged for a “global moratorium on the use
of unaccountable surveillance technology now,” adding that it was past time.
The WhatsApp head used this opportunity to underline
why the company continues to defend end-to-end encryption. “Deliberately weakening
security will have terrible consequences for us all,” he said.
A couple of months ago, WhatsApp moved the Delhi
High Court against the Indian government’s new information technology rules
that seek traceability of content to the original user.
WhatsApp argued that the traceability clause was a
violation of privacy.
Media organisations from all over the world
collaborated in an investigative project that revealed that over 1,000 mobile
phones were targeted by the NSO’s Pegasus spyware across the world.
Nearly 300 mobile phones are likely to have been
targeted in India, reports the Indian Express.
Also Read | What is Pegasus spyware?
According to the reports, two
serving ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three opposition leaders, one
constitutional authority, several journalists and business persons were probably
targeted by the spyware.
Will Cathcart, in a Twitter thread, said that the
revelations by the Guardian and the Washington Post confirm what WhatsApp and
others have been saying for many years.
Cathcart thanked Microsoft, Google,
Cisco and VMWare, the Internet Association and others for speaking up against
the perils of giving spyware companies like NSO immunity.