Whistleblower Edward Snowden warned Israelis to stay alert against heavy-handed government and private surveillance in a speech on Tuesday, Al Jazeera reported. Snowden had exposed the US government’s program of mass spying on citizens in 2013.
Snowden also underlined Israel’s high-tech capabilities, but warned that accepting too much government surveillance and too easily acceding to the argument that it is needed for security reasons posed serious risks.
“If we can allow ourselves to be terrorised by someone with nothing but a knife, to reorder our societies for the convenience of state power … we’ve stopped being citizens and we’ve started being subjects,” said Snowden, speaking via video link from an undisclosed location in Moscow.
Snowden also mentioned the NSO Group, the Israel-based company known for its Pegasus spyware.
Independent experts have highlighted that the software is likely being used in a number of countries with poor human rights records.
“The idea is that companies like this increasingly are popping up all around the world,” Snowden said.
In one case, international experts investigating the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico in 2014 were targeted with the spyware after it had been sold to the government, the experts said.
NSO Group says its product is intended to be used only for investigating and preventing crime and terrorism.
It says it investigates allegations of improper use.