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Israeli task force to oversee response to NSO group findings

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The Israeli government is setting up a task force to decide whether the country’s cyber-export policy needs an overhaul. The move comes after revelations from an international media investigation into Israeli spyware company NSO Group, Axios reported on Tuesday.

The Israeli government is setting up a task force to decide whether the country’s cyber-export policy needs an overhaul. (Photo: Adam Fagen, Flickr) Two Israeli officials told Axios the government will form a task force to deal with the fallout from Project Pegasus, a collaboration of 17 media groups, including the OCCRP. Named after the NSO’s primary spy tool, the project used a data leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers to show how authoritarian governments are using NSO technology to spy on public figures and activists around the world. whole.

This is a very important crisis, ”a senior Israeli official told Axios. “We are trying to fully understand its ramifications. We will need to verify whether the reports on NSO warrant a change in our policy regarding the export of offensive cyber technology to other countries. “

The Pegasus Project raised questions about the NSO Group’s ties to the Israeli state, the group’s sales to foreign clients which included a number of authoritarian regimes subject to approval by the Israeli Defense Ministry. Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister, said in a speech on Tuesday that the government is currently reviewing the information released on the matter.

As stories stemming from the data leak continue to be published, the NSO group has denied the reports, describing them as unsubstantiated theories that are based on information without a factual basis. The company also said in a statement Wednesday that it would no longer respond to media inquiries about the well-orchestrated media campaign.

The group had previously told OCCRP, in written responses to questions, that it did not have access to its customers’ data. However, if and when NSO receives credible evidence of misuse of its technologies, it will conduct a full investigation, as it always has and always will.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for a series of investigations into the case, after Amnesty International revealed he was one of 14 heads of state, including Pakistani Imran Khan and South African Cyril Ramaphosa, selected as persons of interest by ONS clients.

We have long known that activists and journalists are the targets of this surreptitious phone hack, but it is clear that even those at the highest levels of power cannot escape the grim spread of NSO spyware, the secretary general said. Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, in a statement.

In India, protests erupted in parliament on Tuesday after Prime Minister Narendra Modis’ government was accused of using NSO software to monitor political opponents, journalists and activists. Opposition parties have demanded a further investigation into the Pegasus revelations.

It is a threat to national security, opposition party official Kapil Sibal said at a press conference.

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2/ https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc-watch-briefs/14875-pegasus-spyware-israeli-task-force-will-oversee-response-to-nso-group-findings

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