Amid mounting international pressure to restrict the sale of spyware, Israel has more than halved the list of approved countries that can do business with local cybertech companies, according to a report by the Israeli newspaper Calcalist. The list has been reduced to 37 countries from 102, and India is still on it.
In a statement to the newspaper, the Defense Ministry refused to “clarify its policy of overseeing defense exports,” but said it constantly reassessed them and only allowed the export of cybernetic products to countries where they would be used to fight crime and terrorism.
There have been calls to regulate the spyware industry since it was revealed that several governments around the world, including India, have been using Israeli firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to target attackers. political leaders, journalists, human rights activists, businessmen, military officials, intelligence agency officials and many others.
Complete list of countries that can still buy Israeli cyber tools
According to the report, the list was updated in early November, which is reproduced below. Interestingly, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, Rwanda – who have would have used Pegasus – no longer listed.
- The Netherlands
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States
Recap: what is the Pegasus controversy?
In July, reports released by a global consortium of news agencies revealed that nearly 50,000 people around the world may have been targeted by Pegasus, a type of spyware that gains widespread access to smartphones through exploits. without click. Among the 50,000, 300 Indian citizens were potentially under surveillance, including opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, among several other journalists, activists, bureaucrats and politicians. business.
Internationally, the long list of possible Pegasus victims included the names of the French president Emmanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to name a few.
In India, the Supreme Court has established an expert committee to examine allegations of spyware use by the Indian government. The next hearing on the subject is scheduled for January 2022.
NSO faces close scrutiny after Pegasus revelations
NSO Group blacklisted in the United States: Earlier this month, the US Department of Commerce added four foreign companies (including NSO) to the entity list for “engaging in activities contrary to national security or the foreign policy interests of the United States.” . The department explained that the sophisticated tools sold by these companies help foreign governments “carry out transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside their sovereign borders to silence dissent. “.
Israeli government raids ONS offices: Several government officials visited the NSO group’s office in July, according to a statement from the Israeli Defense Ministry. The Ministry would have said he would look into allegations of misuse of the ONS monitoring software while hinting at a possible “review of the whole issue of licensing.”
Senior UN and EU officials condemn Pegasus surveillance: “Any indication that a privacy intrusion has actually occurred must be fully investigated and all those responsible for a possible breach must be brought to justice,” EU Commissioner Didier Reynders told MEPs at the start of a debate in the European Parliament on the Pegasus spyware scandal, according to The Guardian. Meanwhile, United Nations High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has called for a moratorium on “the sale and transfer of surveillance technology.”
UNHCR is under pressure to investigate NSOs: In September, a letter to participating members of the 48th UN Human Rights Council urged them to investigate the use of the Pegasus spyware. It was jointly signed by 95 civil society organizations and independent experts.
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