Following repeated criticism of Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, European private equity firm Novalpina Capital LLP has pledged that it will put a new governance framework in place within 90 days, which will respect human rights in accordance with UN principles.
NSO develops technology that provides government intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the capability to collect data and intercept communications of individuals suspected of terrorism or organized crime.
However, NSO has been associated with a series of affairs in which it was revealed that its software had allegedly been used to spy on journalists, human rights activists, and opponents of tyrannical regimes. NSO uses the WhatsApp communications app to put its surveillance software on telephones. Most recently, NSO was accused of letting the Saudi government use its Pegasus software to track journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.
In February Novalina bought a majority stake in NSO Group at an estimated company valuation of $1 billion. Novalpina says, "We will do whatever necessary to ensure NSO's technology is used only for its intended lawful purpose - the prevention of harm to our fundamental human rights to life, liberty and security from acts of terrorism and serious crime. We believe strongly in the merits of bringing NSO into full alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights."
The company added, "Within the next 90 days, Novalpina will establish at NSO a new benchmark for transparency and respect for human rights in full alignment with the UN Guiding Principles. This is an ambitious goal, wholly without precedent within the cybersecurity industry (in fact, it remains rare in any industry). The intended outcome is a significant enhancement of respect for human rights to be built into NSO's governance policies and operating procedures and into the products sold under licence to intelligence and law enforcement agencies."
Novalpina cofounder Stephen Peel said: "One of the major issues facing government law enforcement officials across the world, as they try to ensure the safety of their citizens, is perpetrators of terrorism and serious crime 'going dark' through the use of encrypted communications. The lawful, appropriate and responsible deployment of surveillance technologies such as NSO's by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies is essential to address the serious consequences of what would otherwise be untraceable crime, terrorism, pedophile rings, human trafficking, drug cartels and the like. Novalpina is committed to do whatever necessary to ensure NSO's technology is used only for its intended lawful purpose - the prevention of harm to our fundamental human rights to life, liberty and security from acts of terrorism and serious crime."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 16, 2019
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