June 19, 2017

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Using Texts as Lures, Government Spyware Targets Mexican Journalists and Their Families.

Human rights advocates and journalists tell The New York Times that Mexican officials are using malware called “Pegasus” designed to track terrorists to instead follow the movements and surveil the communications of reporters:

“Mexican security agencies wouldn’t ask for a court order, because they know they wouldn’t get one,” said Eduardo Guerrero, a former analyst at the Center for Investigation and National Security, Mexico’s intelligence agency and one of the government agencies that use the Pegasus spyware. “I mean, how could a judge authorize surveillance of someone dedicated to the protection of human rights?”

Better to ask forgiveness than permission, I suppose. The unanswered question: If any of these journalists worked for US news organizations, and US-based computer systems were targeted, isn’t this as much or more of an “act of war” as what Julian Assange’s people (and allegedly the Russians) did to Clinton’s homebrew server? Or is the “hacking of our democracy” just an excuse to get Trump’s head on a stick?

Humblebrag: I worked with Bloomberg reporter Vernon Silver five years ago, exposing the use of a similar malware called “Finfisher” employed by Bahrain and Egypt to make dissidents “disappear.”