The British Government is to host an Israeli spyware firm being sued by WhatsApp as well as journalists and human rights activists in several courts around the world.
NSO Group, whose Pegasus software secretly infects phones to give the infiltrator near-total control and access, is being hosted at the closed Security and Policing trade fair in Hampshire next month.
Details of the invite were reported by The Guardian on Thursday, causing angst among campaigners who say the firm’s surveillance technology is used by repressive regimes to targets critics.
Three British residents are believed to have been targeted by NSO Group technology, including a satirist and critic of the Saudi regime, as well as a legal academic involved in a lawsuit against the group, which denies any wrongdoing.
The company, which was founded by figures linked to Israeli intelligence, is reportedly being investigated by the FBI, with messaging platform WhatsApp already having accused it of hacking 1,400 of its users.
Despite the growing concerns, the company has still been invited to exhibit at the three-day fair, where police and security officials from abroad come to view surveillance and crowd-control products.