(Photo credit: Middle East Monitor)
According to an investigation by the Foreign Affairs magazine, the UAE has been using Israeli-made technology for spying on personal devices.
The report examined a number of nations, including the UAE, which are leaders in the sectors of espionage and piracy, and claimed that “the arrival of powerful spyware has altered the world of espionage and surveillance.”
The new technology can spy on anyone anywhere in the world by fusing an industry largely unregulated with a digital ecosystem that is intrusive by design, fueled by data mining through smartphones and other personal gadgets, which carry the most private information about people’s lives.
The selling of spyware to foreign governments has given Israel, which provides export licenses for NSO Group’s Pegasus, considerable diplomatic power in nations like India and Panama.
According to a New York Times investigation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was able to sign the Abraham Accords with Bahrain, Morocco, and the UAE with the use of such NSO deals.
Client states, in turn, have employed Pegasus against geopolitical adversaries, opposition parties, media outlets, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
The Pegasus spyware was used by a client of the NSO Group in the UAE to hack into a device at 10 Downing Street, the home of the British prime minister, and several devices belonging to officials in the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom were also found to have been compromised by Pegasus in 2020 and 2021, according to research conducted by Citizen Lab.
Meanwhile, an investigation by the Washington-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft on 6 December shows that lobby firms working on behalf of the UAE reported more than 10,000 political activities in the US capital between 2020 and 2021 as part of Abu Dhabi’s efforts to steer US foreign policy to meet their national interests.
These activities included emailing, calling, and meeting members of Congress and their staff more than 7,000 times, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings.
Emirati clients employed 25 lobby firms registered under FARA to work on behalf of the Gulf monarchy, paying over $64 million for their services. These firms and their registered foreign agents reported making over $1.65 million in political contributions, while over $500,000 went into the pockets of congress members.