Earlier this year, our Digital Security Helpline — together with our friends at R3D Mexico and Citizen Lab — helped uncover a massive surveillance scandal in Mexico, in which activists’ devices were infected by a highly invasive form of malware. That surveillance technology is produced by NSO Group Technologies, which has become notorious for selling its privacy-threatening tech to governments around the world, regardless of their human rights records.
In the United Arab Emirates, world-renowned human rights activist and blogger Ahmed Mansoor has been targeted at least three separate times using tools acquired from NSO Group. His iPhone was infected with malware in an attempt to turn it into a tracking device and infiltrate his network of fellow activists. Thousands of you have joined us in taking action to get Ahmed released from prison, where he is still being held in solitary confinement without access to his family or his lawyer.
In our more than six years of working on this issue, NSO Group is one of the most irresponsible surveillance tech companies we've seen, openly flouting human rights norms in pursuit of profit. But now, despite NSO Group’s abysmal record, The Blackstone Group — one of the largest investment houses in the world — is negotiating to acquire a significant share in the company, with NSO Group’s current owners poised to pocket hundreds of millions of dollars.
This acquisition is a crucial opportunity. During these negotiations, Blackstone can demand answers from NSO Group, and if it becomes an owner, Blackstone can put an end to NSO Group's shady practices.
Our friends at Citizen Lab and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre have already written to The Blackstone Group with a list of urgent questions, seeking transparency on whether the investment house has done its research on how NSO products are being used to violate human rights, and how Blackstone plans to prevent these harms if the acquisition goes through. Unless it can provide meaningful answers to these questions, The Blackstone Group must immediately drop this deal.
Take action now to help make sure Blackstone's next investment does not put more surveillance technology in the hands of oppressive regimes. We will deliver your petition signatures directly to The Blackstone Group’s headquarters in New York.