In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Stephanie Kirchgaessner of the Guardian who is one of the lead writers of Pegasus Project said the spyware of NSO has been used as a tool of suppression.
She noted that although the NSO company of Israel reportedly sells their spyware Pegasus to 'vetted governments', for the most part, they are used both domestically and internationally to track opposition of the buying governments and dissidents.
In the interview published Monday, Stephanie also highlighted that the spyware market, led by Israel, is hardly regulated by governments.
"In Israel, you see a lot of intelligence officials who deal with spyware who then go into private industry. There are no rules globally, really, for how this technology is sold or how it can be used," she said adding that there are countries who are attacking their citizens in other countries with spyware.
Although this goes against domestic laws it is being used regardless. She hinted at the use of the spyware software for the "personal" goal of one particular head of state.
Stephannie also expressed hope that the write-ups on the Pegasus Project will raise awareness and the spyware industry and its major players will fall under scrutiny, particularly Israel.
She drew attention to the fact that NSO group, provider of the spyware software, is a licensed private company of Israel and goes through the process with approval from the Israel Ministry of Defence for exporting Pegasus to other countries.
Explaining the handover process of the spyware, Stephanie said, "Israel says it vets the clients (governments and agencies) that NSO sells to. They also get a marketing license to market their product and sell it to other countries."
She also cited the huge NSO dataset that Forbidden Stories obtained and commented that the current Mexican ruler Andrés Manuel López Obrador's associates, dissidents and journalists were potential targets for surveillance by a government client of the Israeli spyware.
The list of governments that are the clients of Pegasus include UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, Mexico, Rwanda and Hungary.
Even though NSO had confirmed that their software does not target US mobile carrier users those carrying European cell numbers may be vulnerable to the surveillance threat, Stephanie told The New Yorker correspondent.
She added that there are evidence of Americans, especially journalists living in other countries being targeted by NSO's government clients.
Prior to the interview, a wave of investigative reportage on spyware Pegasus took the global media by storm.
The investigation published by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said the spyware - Pegasus, made and licensed by the Israeli company NSO, had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.
Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International gained access to a leaked list of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers that clients of the Israeli company NSO Group, the developer of Pegasus, selected for surveillance.
Later, NSO issued a statement on the same day rejecting the report, saying the report was "full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories". But Citizen Lab in a report said - Amnesty International's core forensic methods for analyzing devices to determine that they have been infected with NSO Group spyware are sound.