Israel launches commission to probe Pegasus spyware


Legislator Ram Ben Barak says the ‘defense establishment’ will investigate the Israeli firm behind the controversy.

Israel has set up a commission to review allegations that NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus phone surveillance software was misused in the midst of a hacking scandal that rocked governments globally.

The announcement Thursday by the head of the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee comes amid revelations that spyware from the Israeli firm was used by governments to monitor heads of state, opposition figures, activists and journalists, whose names were included. About 50,000 potential targets from the list leaked to rights group Amnesty International and Paris-based Forbidden Stories.

The revelation sparked calls for accountability and increased control over international sales of spyware technology. Pegasus can hack mobile phones without a user knowing, allowing customers to read every message, track a user’s location, and tap into the phone’s camera and microphone.

Israeli legislator Ram Ben Barak, the former deputy head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, told Army Radio “the defense establishment appointed a review commission made up of several groups to investigate the allegations”.

“When they complete their review, we will seek to see the results and assess whether we need to improve,” he said.

NSO, for its part, has stated that the leak “does not list Pegasus’s targets or potential targets”.

On Thursday, its chief executive officer Shalev Hulio told Army Radio that he would be “very happy if there is an investigation so that we can clear our name” while claiming the allegations are part of a larger effort “to defame everyone”. was. Israeli cyber industry”.

‘Dig from top to bottom’

NSO has said that it exports to 45 countries with approval from the Israeli government.

Hulio said the company could not disclose the details of its contracts due to “privacy issues,” but added that he would provide full transparency to any government seeking more details.

“Let any state unit come along – any official of any state – and I will be ready to open everything for them, for them to enter, to dig from top to bottom,” he said. They said.

Meanwhile, Ben Barak said Israel’s priority is to “review this entire licensing issue”.

He credited Pegasus for uncovering several “terrorist cells”, but added: “If it was misused or sold to irresponsible bodies, this is something we need to investigate.”

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday called for a crackdown on cyber-surveillance software.

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