When more than a dozen media outlets published stories this week about a spy tool that targeted the phones of journalists, activists, and others, the public took note in ways it hadn't in the past.
It wasn’t the first time articles about the Pegasus spy tool had been published; nor were the stories the first to reveal that NSO Group — the Israeli company behind the tool — sold it to repressive regimes around the world, who used it to spy on dissidents and journalists, despite NSO claims to the contrary.
But this time the articles took hold for two reasons: The information was published simultaneously by a consortium of 17 media outlets in a blast of stories that have dominated the news cycle for several days. And the stories were based in large part on a massive list of 50,000 phone numbers that had been leaked to the consortium, a list that has become highly controversial because of mysteries surrounding the identity of the leaker and the identity of the person or people who created the list.
To give readers a little clarity about the list and its revelations, I’ve laid out what we do and don’t know about it and how it might have been used.