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US puts Israeli maker of Pegasus spyware in ‘black list’

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Representational image — AFP
Representational image — AFP
  • Authorities discover that the company supplied software used to target officials, journalists and human rights activists.
  • Smartphones infected with Pegasus are essentially turned into pocket spying devices.
  • The companies’ addition to the so-called “entity list” list means that exports to them from US organizations are restricted.

WASHINGTON: After discovering that the Israeli maker of the Pegasus spyware supplied software used to target officials and journalists, the US authorities, have put the firm on the ‘black list’ of companies.

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.

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” list means that exports to them from US organizations are restricted. For example, it is now far harder for American researchers to sell them information or technology.

NSO did not immediately reply to a request for comment.


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