Mexican authorities purchased spyware under the guise of fighting crime, but used it to monitor journalists and activists, as well as provide surveillance services to cartels or resell software to them.
Police actions have been known since 2012. Dozens of journalists and activists have been killed after investigating corruption and the authorities’ links to criminal groups. Despite the authorities’ denial of such allegations, journalists believe the opposite.
It turned out that the authorities purchased the software from more than 20 foreign companies, including the Israeli NSO Group and the Italian Hacking Team. Officially, it can only be used to fight crime. However, corrupt officials used it to pressure the press, and the cartels could buy it for their own purposes, or “order” a wiretap from the police for a bribe.
Back in 2014, several Mexican journalists sued the authorities, accusing them of surveillance using Pegasus software, which is usually used to wiretap terrorists. It was noted that the surveillance was conducted against human rights activists, activists and journalists who criticized the Mexican government.
Reporters Without Borders estimates that Mexico is among the five countries with the highest number of journalists killed in 2020.