Pegasus Journalists More Eager to Appease Funders Than Appear Balanced

The noise about Pegasus spyware is not going away yet, but neither does it seem likely to go anywhere. The dust has been raised and might stay up in the air for as long as the authors still have the appetite to hype the project, yet it all looks like there is nothing unusual in it all.

You hear that 50,000 phone numbers world wide were targeted, that most of the governments that possess it are the type who will likely abuse it. Such arguments are neither here nor there since they severely lack real evidence. It is most interesting that up to now nobody credible among those alleged to have been targeted has complained, a point that makes it hard for the project implementers to authenticate their claims. Instead without shame they now purport that Amnesty International, the very organization that in the first place is behind the scam, has more evidence.

The circumstances under which the journalists conducted their work makes it totally impossible to independently verify their findings. Thus far it merely remains an outrageous report by scribes who seem desperately eager to justify their project to its funders.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame last week scoffed at the sloppy effort to link his government with the spyware. The Pegasus Project alleged that Kigali targeted 3,500 phone numbers belonging to people in and outside the country. He dismissed the allegations, pointing out how farfetched the claims are, saying Rwanda does not have the amount of funds needed to purchase the expensive spyware. Actually the President sounded like if he had the money, acquiring it would be a prime goal for what it is worth. And would his government be the first to use the spyware? Not at all. Most developed countries have much superior surveillance mechanisms. So why would Pegasus be a big deal anyways?

What the President confirmed though, is that Kigali conducts lots of human intelligence, reminding journalists that it is the business of countries to gather information secretly for various reasons.

The Pegasus Project is a coalition of 80 journalists from 17 media organizations from 10 countries. Powered by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International. The spyware itself is owned by NSO Group, an Israel surveillance company funded by among others, prominent equity companies Novalpina Capital and Francisco Partners. It is owned by pension funds in the UK and the United States.

It is by looking critically at who funds NSO and who owns it that you will understand better how destined to fail the Pegasus Project is. The whole affair is like accusing to the accused, making the whole thing futile and boring.

Otherwise why would these investigative journalists focus on the end user of the spyware instead of the owner and and funders? Are the owners that naive to have thought that this spyware would be used for exclusively one thing and not the other? It is like giving an executive officer a telephone hand set and airtime for official calls, and expect him to never call his wife with the same airtime on the very telephone hand set, on the pretext that the facilitation was exclusively meant for official reasons. That would be extremely unrealistic.

Twitter: @KabagambeI




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