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Israel 'looks into' NSO cyber-espionage affair

Reports in Israel say the government has set up an interministerial team to 'look into' the export of Israeli-made Pegasus software and allegation over its abuse against politicians and journalists worldwide.
This studio illustration shows a cellphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group that features the Pegasus spyware, on display in Paris, France, July 21, 2021.

Israel has not yet established a formal inquiry committee into the NSO Group affair, but the government has set up a senior interministerial team tasked with examining it. Israeli media said July 21 that representatives of the National Security Council met this week with experts from the Defense and Foreign Affairs ministries to examine possible consequences of the affair on the country’s diplomacy, international image and security export.

The interministerial team is expected to decide whether an official inquiry should be opened, which would examine the legal aspects of the affair, whether the NSO Group breached the extent of its export license, and whether the authorities kept a tight-enough control of the use of that license. In addition, future working methods should be examined and whether the Ministry of Defense should change its approval mechanism and requirements for issuing such licenses. Noteworthy, as of 2007, Israeli legislation requires that the export of cyberwarfare and cyberspying technologies be approved by a special agency that belongs to the Ministry of Defense, similar to the approval required for the export of weapons.  

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