Arnon Grunberg



On NSO again - Adrian Hennigan in Haaretz:

‘I was thinking about the secret life of spyware workers a lot while watching the new documentary “The Spy in Your Mobile,” about NSO Group and its now-notorious Pegasus software. (Had the company’s three founders known about their eventual downfall, Icarus might have proved a more apt Greek character to choose.)
When I first learned that Hot 8 was premiering the film in Israel this week, the subject matter initially seemed almost as retro as HBO’s excellent new documentary “Being Mary Tyler Moore” (which you can see on Yes VOD and Sting TV from Wednesday). Pegasus? Isn’t that so 2021? Well, as it turns out, no. It was revealed just last week that 12 Armenian officials, human rights activists, journalists, and academics had their Apple devices infected with the Israeli firm’s spyware between October 2020 and December 2022, with Azerbaijan the chief – nay, only – suspect.
And while NSO Group may have gone from being a unicorn to industry sacrificial lamb after its practices were exposed in the media, it definitely deserves a place in the spotlight for its efforts.’


‘Unlike most spyware, you didn’t need to click on a link for your smartphone to become infected with Pegasus and let the NSO client on the other end surveil you – accessing your location, private messages, photos or phone calls. Would anyone be surprised if we eventually discovered that some trolling clients liked to change their target’s ringtone to “Spies Like Us” by Paul McCartney?’


‘Indeed, one thing that comes across depressingly well in the documentary is Israel’s place as world leader in exporting spyware to governments that don’t give a rat’s ass about human rights.’


‘In a brilliant quote, the former head of Mexico’s central intelligence agency expresses amazement at the sheer number of people targeted: “Fifteen thousand – nobody has that many enemies. So, it became a kind of game where public servants could satisfy their personal whims by finding out what their girlfriend or their wife’s lover was up to. There were no limits.” Screenwriters, you may have to buy the rights to that quote separately for inclusion in your script – especially if you’re leaning into the potential to make a very dark comedy.
The same goes for a scene at the International Security Conference in London. British human rights lawyer David Haigh, whose phone has previously been infected with Pegasus software,is surprisingly allowed access to the event. Armed with a hidden camera, he challenges NSO representatives about his phone being hacked.
That showdown might need sexing up for a remake, as NSO’s workers avoid a nasty scene and culpability for their actions – which is a repeated motif throughout.
If any company’s workers deserve closer scrutiny and doorstepping, it’s surely those of NSO. But the Tinder Swindler was pursued more aggressively on camera than these guys (and, yes, it is men pulling the strings). That’s a frustration, as we’re denied the sense of justice being pursued – both on-screen and in real life.’

Read the article here.

NSO is not 2022 and yes the tinder swindler might be more of a household name than NSO. The tinder swindler is juicy, NSO is juicy as well – just read this article – but a bit more effort is needed to get the juiciness.

NSO is not the only one. Israel probably will remain a world leader in exporting spy ware. Whether the clients care for human rights is not even an afterthought. Needless to say, many countries think like this and even those governments who believe that human rights are actually important tend to believe that domestic issues (it’s the economy) are equally important.

Like AI, the spy software is not yet a toddler. And since Israel’s military supremacy is very much connected to unit 8200, Israel will remain one of the main developers of it.

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