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us apple developer accounts for sale(buyappleacc.com):Pegasus spyware scandal: years of questions, no answers for Mexico victims

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,An illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group which features 'Pegasus' spyware. Mexico alone spent more than US$160mil (RM678mil) on Pegasus over a decade, the government says, giving ministries the power to spy on ordinary people and opponents of the then-government alike. — AFP

LOS ANGELES/MEXICO CITY: A decade after Mexico became a testbed for the global spy tool now known as Pegasus, prosecutors still cannot say who ordered the mass surveillance of innocent civilians and government critics, people familiar with the investigation said.

What is more, the office leading the probe was one of the entities that first bought the military-grade Israeli spyware, whose global reach – enabling the remote surveillance of smartphones – has raised fears of unprecedented snooping on civilians.

Mexico alone spent more than US$160mil (RM678mil) on Pegasus over a decade, the government says, giving ministries the power to spy on ordinary people and opponents of the then-government alike.

“Again and again these tools are being abused everywhere,” said Luis Fernando Garcia, executive director of digital rights nonprofit R3D.

“This is not a few bad apples or a few bad public officials.”

There have been no arrests or announcements of sackings over the Mexican revelations, despite forensic evidence showing the software had been widely used to target government critics.

Pegasus software, developed by Israeli company NSO Group, was used globally to try to hack the phones of journalists, activists and government officials, found an investigation published last month by a group of 17 international media organisations and Amnesty International.

But Mexico had a four-year headstart to probe the explosive allegations: years that critics say were – at best – squandered.

Authorities frittered away time, they said, checking to see if any of Mexico’s 2,000 municipalities had bought Pegasus, even as documents showed the big buyer was likely central government.

They also ran into a number of roadblocks, such as a lack of cooperation from Israeli authorities, according to documents and people familiar with the investigation.

“In four years, the investigation has not produced any type of meaningful results,” said Garcia, whose work led to the Pegasus investigation that began in Mexico in 2016.

The person in charge of the government investigation, Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo, head of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, defended his team’s work and said they were close to taking a first case to court.

“This is a really complex investigation,” he said. “It has advanced significantly.”

The NSO Group did not respond to several requests for comment.

The Israeli software targets a smartphone surreptitiously, exploiting flaws in its operating system or apps to steal a wide array of private data, track user movements or record calls.

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