According to media reports, the Dominican Republic is on the list of countries that acquired the Pegasus software to spy on journalists, business executives, politicians and other personalities.
This espionage system of the Israeli company NSO Group would have been acquired by the Dominican Government in 2016.
In July of this year, after an investigation where it was revealed that 50,000 phones around the world could have been targeted by this spy software, Listín Diario tried to have access to information revealing the use of the program and the institution that acquired it in the country, sending the request to the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Defense.
In its answer to the request to inform which institution of the Dominican Republic purchased this program, the Presidency of the Republic assured that “the Pegasus program has not been acquired by the Ministry of the Presidency or its dependencies”.
While the Ministry of Defense regretted not being able to give details of the request by virtue of what is established in Article 2 of the Law of Free Access to Public Information 200-04, which states that everyone has the right to access information as long as “it does not affect national security, public order, public health or morals or the right to privacy and intimacy of a third party or the right to the reputation of others”.
Likewise, they cited article 17 of the law that establishes the limitation to access on grounds of public interest.
“The following limitations and exceptions to the obligation of the State and the institutions indicated in Article 1 of the present law are established: a) Information related to the defense or security of the State, which has been classified as “reserved” by law or by decree of the Executive Power, or when it may affect the international relations of the country; e) Information classified as “secret” in the protection of scientific, technological, communications, industrial or financial strategies and projects, and whose disclosure may harm the national interest”, they said.
Under this argument it is impossible to determine if this program is still being used in the country to spy on people and in what way those who were or have been spied on affected the Dominican State.
Knowing the exact price of the program has not been possible: reports from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office indicate that the acquisition of this software in 2014 had a value of 32 million dollars.
This program used through iOS and Android cell phones, has a main infection scheme: the victim receives an SMS message with a link, if the person clicks, his device is infected with the spyware.
In addition to this, the software is activated when answering a call.
This program is also capable, on Android, of reading the victim’s SMS and emails, listening to calls, taking screenshots, recording keystrokes and accessing contacts and browser history.
In addition to the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador are some of the Latin American countries that have acquired the program.