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September 2, 2021 10:05 am

Israel Commits to Increase Vigilance on Use of Pegasus Software

avatar by i24 News

A man reads at a stand of the NSO Group Technologies, an Israeli technology firm known for its Pegasus spyware enabling the remote surveillance of smartphones, at the annual European Police Congress in Berlin, Germany, February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

i24 News – Israel on Wednesday struck back at criticism that the country is neglecting oversight of NSO Group, pledging to step up efforts to ensure the company’s Pegasus spyware doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Speaking to foreign reporters, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the government had only limited control over how defense exports are used by customers. He explained, however, that Israel is committed to strengthening safeguards to prevent abuse in the use of all types of weapons.

“We are going to look at this again,” said Yair Lapid. “We’re going to make sure, or try to make sure to the extent of what is doable and what is not, that nobody is misusing anything that we sell.”

NSO was the subject of criticism for several months following reports that its flagship product, Pegasus, was misused by governments to spy on dissidents, journalists, human rights defenders and possibly even heads of state.

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This software is able to stealthily infiltrate a target’s mobile phone, giving users access to data, emails, contacts, and even devices’ cameras and microphones.

NSO has defended itself against any wrongdoing, claiming that Pegasus’ sole vocation is to enable governments to identify criminals and terrorists.

At the end of July, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz traveled to Paris to meet his counterpart Florence Parly, after France said it was investigating suspicions that President Emmanuel Macron may have been targeted by Moroccan security agents using Pegasus spyware.

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