Spyware and the Press

Spyware and the Press

A discussion about the threat that malicious surveillance technology poses to press freedom around the world

Columbia Journalism School - Joseph D. Jamail Lecture Hall

Authoritarian and rights-abusing regimes are increasingly using malicious spyware to surveil and intimidate journalists, threatening press freedom around the world. Late last year, the Knight Institute filed a lawsuit on behalf of journalists and other members of El Faro—one of Central America’s leading independent news organizations. Over a 16-month period, El Faro’s employees were subjected to more than 200 attacks that relied on NSO Group’s Pegasus technology. Their iPhones were accessed remotely and surreptitiously, their communications and activities were monitored, and their personal data was accessed and stolen. What implications does the proliferation of spyware have for press freedom, democracy, and human rights? And what can be done to hold accountable the companies that sell this technology, and the governments (and others) who use it against journalists? 

Co-sponsored by the Knight First Amendment Institute and Columbia Journalism School.



Dada v. NSO Group

"A Hacked Newsroom Brings a Spyware Maker to U.S. Court," by Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker (November 30, 2022).

"Pegasus spyware was used to hack reporters’ phones. I’m suing its creators," by Nelson Rauda Zablah, The Guardian (December 5, 2022).


  • Columbia Journalism School

    Joseph D. Jamail Lecture Hall


    2950 Broadway

    New York, NY 10027


    • Carlos Dada, El Faro
    • Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker 
    • Sheila Coronel, Columbia Journalism School
    • Carrie DeCell, Knight First Amendment Institute 
    • Jameel Jaffer, Knight First Amendment Institute