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Pegasus and us


* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

What can we learn from the news that Pegasus spyware was used by the police, without justification, to wiretap the phones of numerous individuals, from politicians and journalists to ordinary citizens?

1. Exercise of power without restriction is dangerous. A sense of hubris is created. It's the feeling that we can do no wrong, that the ends justify the means. This is not only about overzealous police and prosecutors. Each of us needs to look around and see where, in every area of life, authority figures operate without accountability or transparency.

2. This affair is a reminder of the new digital reality. Indeed, we would not be shocked if our bank accounts or medical records were hacked and exposed. By the same token, we have allowed our phones to become intimate parts of ourselves, inextricably linked to our minds, if not our souls.

3. A wise person told me this week that it would be worthwhile to get back to basics and be more protective of our privacy. More than a thousand years ago, Rabbeinu Gershom published restrictions on personal conduct that included a prohibition on opening someone else's mail. In our time, that prohibition would encompass accessing someone else's digital documents, opening someone else's computer without permission, sharing personal messages with a third party, and listening in to a conversation without knowledge of the participants. Our task now is to reassert our right to privacy in order to safeguard it in the future.

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