The United Nations Calls for More Control of Surveillance Technology

The United Nations expressed concern on Monday about claims that numerous nations were using Israeli phone malware to spy on activists, journalists, and others, highlighting the urgent need for greater surveillance technology regulation.

According to UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet, the disclosures about the Pegasus spyware affirm the urgent need to better control the sale, transfer, and use of surveillance technology and provide stringent oversight and authorization.

A joint investigation by The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, and other news organizations revealed that the malware developed by Israel’s NSO Group, which is capable of turning on a phone’s camera or microphone and harvesting its data, could be used for far more extensive spying than previously thought.

The revelations, according to Bachelet, are “very disturbing” and They appear to corroborate some of the worst suspicions about the potential misuse of surveillance technology. She noted that the UN has previously warned about the dangers of authorities employing surveillance capabilities to hack genuine journalists, activists, and political opponents’ phones and computers in the name of public safety. She also cautioned that widespread adoption of such tools could lead to self-censorship.

Surveillance methods can only be authorized “in carefully defined circumstances, with a legitimate objective” such as “investigations into severe crimes and grave security risks,” according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. If the current charges about the use of Pegasus are even partially true, that red line has been violated numerous times with complete impunity.

Companies who develop and distribute surveillance technologies, according to Bachelet, should verify that their products are not used to violate human rights. She also stated that states should put an end to monitoring that breaches human rights and protect individuals from businesses that abuse their right to privacy, including through the regulation of spying technologies.

Photo Credit: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/07/1096142