'Horrible human rights violation globally must be stopped': WhatsApp head Will Cathcart on Pegasus spyware row

WhatsApp head Will Cathcart slammed that Israel NSO's Pegasus for "human rights violation" globally after global media outlets investigated the spyware is being used to spy on activists and journalists.

Taking to Twitter, Cathcart asked human rights defenders, tech companies, and governments must work collaboratively to increase user security and hold the entities abusing the Pegasus spyware accountable.

“This is a wake up call for security on the Internet,” he said. “The mobile is the primary computer for billions of people. Governments and companies must do everything they can to make it as secure as possible.”

In 2019, WhatsApp brought the matter to light when it sued Israeli spyware maker NSO Group for its Pegasus spyware that was allegedly used to snoop on journalists, activists, lawyers and senior government officials in 20 countries around the world, including India, in May 2019.

India is found to be among more than 50 countries where the spyware is believed to be used as a cyber-surveillance weapon

Months after spying cases were reported, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against NSO Group — the makers of Pegasus.

“We need more companies, and critically, governments, to take steps to hold NSO Group accountable,” he stated. “Once again, we urge a global moratorium on the use of unaccountable surveillance technology now", Cathcart said.

The new investigation, which was based on a massive data leak and was carried out by 16 media organisations including India's The Wire and global outlets such as The Washington Post and The Guardian, revealed that Pegasus was used to keep an eye on over a thousand activists, journalists, business executives, government officials, and politicians, among others.

Phone numbers of over 40 Indian journalists were on a hacking list of an unidentified agency using Israeli spyware Pegasus, reported The Wire on Sunday evening. The report said forensic tests have confirmed that some of them were successfully snooped upon by the agency. The numbers of top journalists at Hindustan Times, India Today, Network18, The Hindu, The Indian Express, and The Wire were in the leaked list, the report added.

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