US ‘black lists’ Pegasus spyware

(Photo: Jordan News)
WASHINGTON, DC — US authorities on Wednesday put the Israeli maker of the Pegasus spyware on a list of restricted companies, taking aim at software central to a scandal over surveillance of journalists and officials.اضافة اعلان

The company, NSO, was engulfed in controversy over reports that tens of thousands of human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and business executives worldwide were listed as potential targets of its Pegasus software
Smartphones infected with Pegasus are essentially turned into pocket spying devices, allowing the user to read the target’s messages, look through their photos, track their location, and even turn on their camera without them knowing. 

“These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists, and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent,” the US Commerce Department said in a statement.

NSO fired back at the decision, saying its “technologies support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime.”

“We will advocate for this decision to be reversed,” a NSO spokesperson told AFP, adding its compliance controls have resulted in “multiple terminations of contacts with government agencies that misused our products.”   

Washington also targeted Israeli company Candiru, Singapore-based Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE (COSEINC) and Russian firm Positive Technologies.

The companies’ addition to the so-called “entity list” means exports to them from US organizations are restricted. For example, it is now far harder for American researchers to sell them information or technology.

Critics say the widespread availability of software like Pegasus now allows even cash-strapped authoritarian governments to effectively purchase their own answer to the US’ National Security Agency, with highly invasive surveillance powers.

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