By Omer Kabir
“The Israeli company NSOs are the worst of the worst among those who sell spyware to violate human rights,” said NSA’s secrets expert Edward Snowden, who spoke in a video call to an Israeli audience at a public relations event organized by public relations firm Orenstein Hoshen.
“It may not bother you, because you trust your industry,” added Snowden. “They are sure to sell their spy tools, Pegasus, to the Israeli government, but think who has it, who else is using it, not just this company, but its business model, such companies are emerging all over the world.
“Israel has a huge technological advantage, but is this really information security? Their business model is looking for security breaches, not to fix them, but to hide them, sell access to their customers.”
‘NSO is special because we have a record of what it does, there are academic researchers who have managed to find out what they are doing. And when you find out what Pegasus is doing, you understand that this is not only something that is used to protect Israel, not only for capturing criminals, stopping terror attacks and saving lives.
“Among the targets of Pegasus are journalists, celebrities, corruption fighters, politicians like the President of the Senate in Mexico. The NSO does not care, because that’s not their problem.
“Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a writer. And the Saudis killed him. He does not build bombs. So, how did they know where he was and what he was doing? How did they know what his plans would be? The reality is that they implanted the NSO spy on the phone of one of his friends.
“Some of this activity takes place every day, they can use it against you and anyone else, it’s not a security industry, it’s a non-security industry. We would not have known that if people had not risked telling us. This willingness to risk telling the public what no one wants us to know will drive us to a better world.
“We need to get a certain level of risk, both personally and socially, if we want to enjoy freedom. None of us will be safe unless we are all safe, and when we let things interfere with our sense of collective purpose. When we stop talking and listening, we create boundaries that do not leave the others outside but inside us. And in the end, when we are in a world like this where we are afraid of all the real dangers outside until we start limiting our activities, we stop moving and stop living. ”
In response to a question about the possible danger to the privacy of the Trump government, Snowden replied: “We are always one election away from improving the situation. It’s not enough to believe, you have to do something. I said in the past, and during the Obama administration it sounded crazy, that there would be a crisis, an attack that would frighten people, and anyone with a hand on the button would say that this time it’s different, this time we’re taking off our gloves. Think that in such a case, this policy and process will save us. But this history has failed every time. ”
When you stop talking, you stop listening
At the start of his remarks, the superlative revealed that after he learned that he intended to speak to an Israeli audience in Tel Aviv, he was approached by officials who asked him not to do so. “Many people, including my close friends, called me and asked me not to show up or not to speak, like most Americans, I am against the occupation and respect those who work to bring it to an end.
The safest option was to cancel the show. But what is certain is not always what is true. I understand that many of you will not agree with what I have to say, or even if I talk, but that’s why it’s important to make that call. Because when you stop talking, you stop listening, and there is no progress without dialogue. ”
Snowden is responsible for one of the most massive secret information leaks in US history, and in 2013, as a contract worker at the National Security Agency, Snowden took 1.7 million of classified documents from the agency’s computers. He passed them on to journalists, revealing a variety of secret aspects of the NSA’s spy system and information about foreign intelligence agencies. Including a program to extract extensive information from technology companies through direct access to corporate computers, as well as a tool capable of collecting and analyzing almost all information on the Web.
In an Israeli context, the Snowden’s documents revealed, among other things, that Unit 8200 signed an agreement with the NSA to obtain raw information about American citizens, and that the NSA would monitor Israel’s military targets. In 2009, the Americans intercepted correspondence from senior Israeli officials, headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Since his identity was revealed, he has lived as an escaped refugee from the US authorities, where he is under arrest. After a short stay in Hong Kong, Snowden received asylum in Russia and in recent years has lived in an unknown country.
“Five years ago, I sat with three journalists at a Hong Kong hotel sweating nonstop and waited to see how you and the rest of the world would respond to the first exposure that the NSA had documented almost everything it could have – in the US it was almost every phone call, everything they did. The result is that not only are we still talking about the violation of our privacy, we are talking about it much more. Once you turn something from conspiracy theories into reality, everything changes. ”
Facebook is a trucking company and you are the product
“What do you do when there are people with machines where you can not get there and all they do all day is make lists?
Facebook is one of the best examples. Google is worse, but doing a good job staying under the radar.
Facebook does not care about you, they do not care about your future or what happens in your country. They only care about your information. They are a trucking company and you are their product. What they produce, keep and sell to others is your life story.
Your preferences, everything you read, and deeper: the people you become, the ideas that appeal to you and reject you. It’s a system that puts your brain on the shelf with a price tag. And what’s scary is that it works. ”
He also spoke about the importance of the principles of protecting the right to privacy.
“The argument that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, which comes from Nazi Germany, is intended to transfer the burden of proof from the government to society,” he said. “The society needs to justify why it needs privacy, but if you need to justify your rights you are not living in a liberal society.
“We are all afraid, but we have to understand that this is not about personal freedom but about Freedom with a big F. If we begin to make exceptions to certain rights, it means that those who need this right should not be protected.
“Progress and privacy are the ones that make up the differences we have, and when people think they are being followed, they behave differently, because they know that other people judge them when they make mistakes.
“The goal of surveillance is not safety but control. It is an expression of power. When power structures change, we have very little ability to resist them. I love my country. To say that I have no problem because I have nothing to hide is like saying I do not care about the freedom of expression because I have nothing to say. The statement should be ‘I have nothing to hide, I have something to say.’ ”
NSO said in response, “NSO is developing products that are sold to government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terrorism. Not only is the company operating under the security export laws, it is also the only company of its kind in the world, which operates an independent ethics committee that includes external experts from legal backgrounds and international relations, in order to prevent a situation in which its products are exploited. NSO’s products help every day to save thousands of lives from terrorists, drug barons, child abductors, pedophiles and more. ”