The US Department of Commerce has added four non-US companies, including spyware maker NSO Group, to its list of legal entities for “engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States “, is indicated in the message.
In other words, the United States blacklisted the NSO Group and three other companies based in Israel, Russia and Singapore.
NSO Group and Pegasus spyware
The Israeli-based group NSO came into the spotlight in August this year over a spyware scandal. reported NPR. The company was blacklisted because it supplied and developed spyware to “foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businessmen, activists, academics and embassy staff,” the ministry said in a statement. of trade from November 3.
The company’s most famous spyware, Pegasus, is easily installed on a smartphone without the victim knowing about it – they just need to open a text message, for example, explains ArsTechnica.
“Pegasus can jailbreak or root an iPhone or Android phone and make copies of call history, text messages, calendar entries, and contacts. Pegasus can also activate cameras and microphones to eavesdrop, track target movements. “and steal end-to-end messages – terminating encrypted chat applications,” they reported ArsTechnica.
When this type of technology is used for good, it obviously has huge advantages. However, as a key report published in July 2021 revealed, often this type of spyware is used maliciously.
The NSO Group claims that its spyware was developed and delivered to assist government agencies in the fight against terrorism and other threats. For example, software from another Israeli technology company Cellebrite helped police in Brazil find two child killers in April 2021.
However, according to the US announcement and the spyware scandal earlier this year, it is clear that this type of technology is being misused, violating human rights.
List of legal entities in the USA and response of the NSO group
By listing them as legal entities in the United States, the NSO Group and three other companies imposed a “licensing requirement that applies to all items subject to Export Management Regulations (EARs). In addition, there are no licensing exemptions for exports, re-exports, or transfers (in the country) to entities that are added to the List of Entities in this Regulation. “
NSO Group wrote that she would soon respond with a full briefing, but in the meantime the company said how scared she was [it was] with the decision, given that our technology supports the interests and policies of US national security by preventing terrorism and crime, and thus we will advocate that this decision be overturned. “
“We look forward to providing full information on how we have the world’s strictest respect and human rights programs based on American values, which we deeply share, which has already led to repeated cessation of contacts with government agencies that abuse our products, “he added.