Israel Names Committee to Investigate NSO Software Abuse
Israel has appointed a committee to investigate claims that Israel-based NSO Group sold spyware to governments that used it to spy on activists, politicians and journalists. The team investigating the NSO Group’s Pegasus software is headed by Israel’s National Security Council, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed Israeli source. It also includes representatives from the Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry, Mossad and Military Intelligence.
France also is investigating the spyware after French President Emmanuel Macron’s phone number was discovered to be among its targets.
“The objective is to find out what happened, to look into this issue and learn lessons,” the Israeli source told Reuters.
Drawing from a database of 50,000 phone numbers which the investigators believe is a list of potential targets supplied by NSO clients, a collaborative investigation task force comprised of two NGOs and some 80 journalists and called The Pegasus Project has identified more than 180 journalists on the list, as well as lawyers and human rights advocates, according to reports in major newspapers this week.
Pegasus reportedly enables its user to obtain personal data such as the messages and call records held on a cell phone. It also allows an operator that has successfully infiltrated into a target’s device to enable its microphone and cameras, as well as record phone calls.
NSO says the software was sold to countries to allow their government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.