Twenty phones belonging to staff members of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against Settlements were infected with Pegasus, a type of spyware capable of recording mobile phone conversations, according to new reports from Human Rights Watch and The Electronic Intifada.
Settlement rights groups, including the Popular Committee Against Settlements and the Palestinian Civil Rights Campaign, have received similar reports of phones being infected with Pegasus this year, as well as news of another phone virus potentially able to eavesdrop on both residential phones and staff phones.
Reports indicate that over the past two years, the Ethiopian government has been providing advanced smartphones to a Lebanese NGO which works on political campaigns in the country. According to reports in Gulf News, the Lebanese NGO’s internal networks have been hacked and rerouted to locations outside of the country, making them vulnerable to spying.
Two of the e-mail addresses associated with the anonymous servers that administer the informant are linked to the mobile phones of the Palestinian NGO and the civil rights campaign, according to Human Rights Watch. Since 2014, Israel has also deployed Pegasus on the AT&T network to surveil and, potentially, censor Palestinians. There has been no publicly made comment from AT&T on the matter.
The human rights organization also says that Israel has deployed another form of malware, dubbed SkyHunter, on the network of the Palestinian PA to monitor and censor Palestinians.
This has led the organizations to publicly call on the United States to ban the use of spyware and surveillance devices, and to assist in reforming the telecommunications industry so that it is less prone to surveillance.
Read the full story at The Electronic Intifada and Gulf News.
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