As per the court documents filed by the FBI, the agency had reportedly considered using Pegasus software for spying on criminals early last year.
While it’s unclear if they had used it or not, they decided not to try Pegasus in their criminal investigations in July 2021, the same month when allegations poured in of the FBI using the hacking tool in Jamal Khashoggi’s case. While they stopped using it now, the agency said they’re still open to trying any similar tool in the future.
FBI Using Pegasus Software
To the unknown, Pegasus is a software hacking tool developed by an Israeli company named NSO Group, which faced harsh criticism on various counts. While the maker of Pegasus argues that it was developed for government use in tracking terrorists, allegations say that governments have used Pegasus to suppress activists, journalists, and citizens.
Well, it’s now reported that the FBI, too, had thought of using Pegasus in their criminal investigations earlier. This was reported by The New York Times based on a court filing by the FBI, which stated that the agency officials in early 2021 had developed plans to brief FBI leadership about Pegasus and the guidelines for federal prosecutors on how they should disclose the FBI’s use of Pegasus in court cases.
While it’s unclear if the FBI has used it or not, it eventually announced in July 2021 that its agency wouldn’t use Pegasus in its investigations. Well, that was the same month when The Washington Post reported that Pegasus had been used against two women close to Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Saudi journalist.
Well, it was at least known that the FBI has used Phantom, a version of Pegasus that’s tuned to target phones with US numbers, earlier this year. Further from the court documents, the FBI said it’s open to using the software or any similar tools in the future to aid their criminal investigations.
“Just because the FBI ultimately decided not to deploy the tool in support of criminal investigations does not mean it would not test, evaluate and potentially deploy other similar tools for gaining access to encrypted communications used by criminals.”