Israel’s Comptroller Investigating Police Use of NSO Spyware on Citizens
Israel’s government comptroller announced that he would investigate the alleged use by the Israel Police of the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to remotely access, control and extract information from cellphones belonging to Israeli citizens.
The Israeli business daily Calcalist reported on Tuesday that among those that have been targeted by police with the spyware are leaders of political protests against former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, local mayors, former government employees, and a person close to a senior politician.
The office of government comptroller Matanyahu Englman released a statement later on Tuesday, after the report, which does not include any named source, was cited in news reports around the world, that he has spent the last several weeks reviewing the Israel Police’s use of technology for law enforcement purposes.
Calcalist also reported that the hacking was not done under court supervision, and police did not request a search or bugging warrant to conduct the surveillance. The Israel Police first acquired the Pegasus software in 2013.
The police responded to the report calling it “untrue,” and said that it acts according to the law and the courts. NSO noted in a statement in response to the report that the company is not involved in the operation of the software after it is sold to a customer, and that it licenses the products “for the use of security bodies and state law enforcement agencies, to prevent crime and terrorism legally, and according to court orders and local law in each country.” NSO has come under scrutiny following reports that its Pegasus spyware has been used by certain governments around the world to spy on human rights activists, politicians and journalists.