Pegasus | Laurent Richard

Summary of: Pegasus: How a Spy in Your Pocket Threatens the End of Privacy, Dignity, and Democracy
By: Laurent Richard


Welcome to the intriguing world of Pegasus, a state-of-the-art cybersurveillance program that threatens the end of privacy, dignity, and democracy. In this gripping book summary, you’ll learn about the perilous journey of investigative journalists Laurent Richard and Sandrine Rigaud as they delve deep into leaked data revealing about 50,000 private phone numbers targeted for surveillance. Through this thrilling account, we’ll uncover the intentions behind those surveillances, from government agencies to private companies, and the potential threats to innocent individuals, including human rights activists, political dissidents, and journalists. As we navigate this suspenseful narrative, prepare to unravel a chilling violation of privacy that demands urgent attention.

The Chilling Reality of Pegasus

Investigative journalists uncover a dark truth about the state-of-the-art cybersurveillance program Pegasus, revealing that innocent individuals such as government officials, academics, human rights activists, political dissidents, and journalists were targeted, putting free speech and democracy under attack.

In a top-secret meeting in 2020, investigative journalists Laurent Richard and Sandrine Rigaud were presented with a leaked list of approximately 50,000 private phone numbers that were potential targets for the state-of-the-art cybersurveillance program Pegasus. Claudio Guarnieri and Donncha Ó Cearbhaill from Amnesty International’s Security Lab hosted the meeting and took explicit security measures to ensure the safety of the data they were about to share.

Although this technology isn’t a new concept, the journalists and tech experts soon uncovered the darker truth behind the leaked list. The phone numbers on the list targeted innocent individuals such as government officials, academics, human rights activists, political dissidents, and journalists. The largest group, comprising over 120 numbers, belonged to journalists. This revelation had staggering implications as it indicated that the very core of free speech and democracy were under attack.

The journalists’ mission was clear but challenging: to turn the leaked information into hard evidence while remaining hidden from the powerful clients of one of the largest cybersecurity companies in the world. The implications of the leaking of the list were terrifyingly clear when a Moroccan client, targeting members of the French government on the list, included French President Emmanuel Macron’s name. It’s chilling to think about the consequences if someone could spy on one of the most prominent leaders in the world.

This investigative reporting by Laurent and Sandrine reveals the chilling reality of Pegasus, where innocent individuals are potential targets, putting the very core of democracy and free speech at risk.

A Long Journey Begins

Laurent and Sandrine must verify 50,000 possible leads for Pegasus infection independently. With the small circle of Forbidden Stories and Security Lab, they devise a secure communication method and a forensics tool to find evidence of Pegasus. They convince Jorge Carrasco, director of Mexican investigative publication Proceso, to volunteer his phone for testing, which validates the data’s authenticity and forensic tools’ abilities. The journey’s first step is taken, giving them hope that they are on the right track.

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