FBI Purchased Pegasus Spyware for Domestic Surveillance in the US

Several countries have previously been reported to use the Pegasus spyware against their citizens without legal implications. Now, a report claims that the FBI also purchased access to the spyware for use in domestic surveillance applications.

The New York Times Magazine summarized the results of a year-long investigation into NSO Group, the company behind Pegasus. It claims that the US considered using the spyware as an advanced surveillance tool. The FBI allegedly purchased Pegasus in 2019. Its makers also gave the enforcement authority a demonstration of Phantom, a new tool capable of hacking phones in the US.

Reportedly, after the purchase, the FBI and US Justice Department spent two years contemplating whether or not to deploy Phantom. Further, it was only in the summer of 2021 that the government agencies decided against using the NSO Group’s spyware tools. NYT reports that the dangerous spyware is still in the possession of the FBI and held at a facility in New Jersey.

To recall, Apple also sued the NSO Group for targeting iPhone users in November last year. In its lawsuit, the company sought a permanent injunction to ban the spyware maker from using any of its products and services. Reports in December claimed that the Israeli firm was considering shutting down its spyware development operations or selling the business unit.

Do you believe the FBI would have used Pegasus and Phantom for domestic surveillance in the US if the tools wouldn’t have been discovered operating in the wild? Tell us in the comments section.

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