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U.S. condemns ‘extrajudicial surveillance’ of journalists, activists, regime critics

Joe Biden had said that China and Russia were “protecting” and “even accommodating” cyber hackers and their hacking.

The Biden administration has condemned the harassment and ‘extrajudicial surveillance’ of journalists and others in reaction to reports published by a consortium of news websites that Israeli company NSO Group’s spyware, Pegasus, was used for illegal hacking and surveillance of individuals in India and other countries.

“The United States condemns the harassment or extrajudicial surveillance of journalists, human rights activists, or other perceived regime critics,” a White House spokesperson said via email to The Hindu in response to a question on what U.S. President Joe Biden’s position on the issue was.

Only on Monday U.S. President Joe Biden had said that China and Russia were “protecting” and “even accommodating” cyber hackers and their hacking.

The news reports on Pegasus say that in addition to actually or potentially targeting journalists, leaders of the opposition in India, and others, a database of phone numbers that allegedly belonged to the NSO Group contained the numbers of two U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials in New Delhi and employees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Just as states have the duty to protect human rights, businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights, including by ensuring that their products or services are not being used by end-users to abuse fundamental freedoms,” the spokesperson told The Hindu on Tuesday.

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