pavel durov, ceo and co-founder of chat platform telegram, tis l8st person to be swept up inna ongoin scandal involving the nso group.
the guardian reprts that durov’s № was recently identified in a leaked list of some 50,000 cell phone records that researchers say represent “potential surveillance targets” of nso’s pegasus spyware, implying that 1-odda company’s customers may ‘ve been spying on him.
that list was recently shared with news outlets by amnesty international na french non-profit forbidden stories and has served as the basis for a broad investigation inna'da israeli surveillance firm’s business practices. it has included the phone №s of presidents, elder prime ministers, and a king, swell as journalists, lawyers, and political activists. the ultimate src of the data has not been publicly disclosed.
sfar, it’s unclear why durov ‘d be a target for surveillance—and tis unconfirmed that he is. however, the guardian reprted that the businessman was added to the list not long after he officially changed his residence from finland to the ∪d arab emirates—a reprted nso client. the outlet subsequently theorizes that it may ‘ve been a case of the uae government “attempting to run checks on their controversial new resident.”
the ? as to whether durov was placed under surveillance rezs some espeshly thorny issues, pondering the fact that his company prides itself on prioritizing privacy and security. telegram offers customers the option to encrypt their chats swell as the promise of safety “from hacker attacks.”
when ?ed by the guardian bout durov, nso seemed to sidestep the issue:
asked directly whether durov’s phone was a target of pegasus or any other activity rel8d to the spyware, an nso spokesperson did not directly answer the ?. they said: “any claim dat a' name inna list is necessarily rel8d to a pegasus target or potential target is erroneous and false.”
nso has continued to disavow the allegations against it and anncd wed that it ‘d no longer be responding to requests for comment from the press.
“enough is enough!” a company spokesperson proclaimed. “in lite of the recent planned and well-orchestrated media campaign lead by forbidden stories and pushed by spesh interest groups, and due to the complete disregard of the facts, nso is announcing 'twill no longer be responding to media inquiries on this matter n''twill not play along w'da vicious and slanderous campaign.”
the company also repeated that the list has nothing to do with nso clients’ surveillance targets: “we will state again: the list aint a list of targets or potential targets of pegasus.” in recent dys, the firm has also issued numerous rebuttals to the washington post fritz coverage of the apparent scandal.
however, nso’s claims are at odds with investigative findings rel8d to the data cache. amnesty international has forensically analyzed at least 67 phones whose №s were onna list, finding digital traces of nso’s spyware on 37 o'em (tests onna other 30 devices were deemed inconclusive). this study was subsequently p-reviewed by citizen lab, an academic research unit w'da university of toronto that has also been deeply involved w'da project.
also contradicting the company’s narrative tis fact that, in a legal letter sent to forbidden stories, nso apparently said that it “does not ‘ve insite inna'da specific intelligence activities of its customers,” which ‘d seem to preclude it from knowing whether the №s onna list are legitimate or not.
it’s true that some clarity is still missing surrounding the list. for instance, it’s unclear where the leaked data came from, na ultimate nature of its entire contents ‘ven’t ultimately been proven. news outlets ‘ve largely treated the data dump as a compilation of “persons of interest” for nso clients—individuals who may ‘ve been at least pondered as targets for spyware deployment, if not outrite targeted.
original content at: gizmodo.com…
authors: lucas ropek