by Giuseppe Gagliano –
The Israeli government is pressing the United States to reverse its recent decision to blacklist two controversial digital surveillance companies, which the Israeli government considers a “critical element of its foreign policy.” The US Department of Commerce placed two companies, NSO Group Technologies and Candiru, on its sanctions list on November 3. According to a statement from the US Department of Commerce, the two companies are alleged to be engaged in “activities contrary to the national security interests or foreign policy of the United States.”
The move came on the heels of the revelation of a spyware known as Pegasus, marketed by NSO Group, capable of installing itself on target phones without requiring its users to click a link or download an app. Upon installation, the software gives its user almost complete control over the target phone. This includes the ability to browse device content, such as photos and videos, record conversations, and activate the phone’s built-in microphone and camera at any time, without the user’s consent or knowledge.
The United States is among many Western governments that have criticized Pegasus as a malicious tool, used by some NSO Group agents to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businessmen, activists, academics and embassy personnel. Software tools like Pegasus have enabled a number of governments around the world to launch transnational campaigns by targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside their sovereign borders — or silencing dissent, according to the US Department of Commerce. United State.
The The New York Times It stated that the Israeli government supports the work of the NSO Group and Candiru and “views Pegasus software as a critical component of its foreign policy.” Therefore, the Israelis are “concerned” by Washington’s decision to blacklist the two companies and are determined to put pressure on the White House. The goal of the Israeli government, according to the document, is to convince the US administration that the activities of NSO and Candiru “remain of great importance to the national security of both,” that is, Israel and the United States. In exchange for rolling back the US decision to blacklist the companies, Israel is willing to exercise “tighter control” of these and other similar companies through its software licensing system.
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