In “Targeted by a Text”, Fault Lines investigates how a powerful technology, Pegasus, is being used to hack into the iPhones of human rights activists, dissidents, lawyers and journalists.
After the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, it was revealed that one of his associates, a Saudi dissident based in Canada, was targeted by Pegasus, a software suite with the ability to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the iPhone’s operating system.
Saudi Arabia is one of several countries that purchased the product, which was developed by NSO Group, a secretive Israeli company. While the company claims its tool is used to target criminals and terrorists, there is evidence to suggest it has been used against family members of murder victims and human rights investigators.
The film shows how NSO Group operates among a burgeoning global industry of shadowy cyber-weapons sellers, competing with one another for lucrative government contracts and what this means for the privacy of people who challenge the authority of their country’s elite.
In Mexico, we’ll talk to journalists targeted with Pegasus attacks. In London, we’ll meet Yahya Assiri, a Saudi dissident living in self-exile and Pegasus target, who was in daily contact with Jamal Khashoggi. Most of what is known about Pegasus and NSO Group comes from the research at CitizenLab. The director will walk us through how they have created a global map of Pegasus infections.