US government faces pressure from Israel to remove NSO from US blacklist

Israeli officials are reportedly urging the United States to remove a controversial Israeli cyber surveillance firm, NSO Group, from the Commerce Department’s blacklist.

It came after the department said the spyware company’s actions were inconsistent with US foreign policy and national security concerns.

So at this point, removing NSO from the list would be a dramatic reversal by the Joe Biden administration, and many Democratic Party progressives, Congress, as well as the cyber defense community, would criticize the move.

According to Axios, an American and two Israeli officials said Washington was considering Israel’s demand.

However, it has been reported that NSO has recruited two law firms in the US to work on the blacklist problem, and a company official reportedly said the lawyers have filed an appeal with the Commerce Department requesting a hearing. filed, which is not yet done.

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official told Vala: “We told Americans not to disband NSO. Even if the company has some problematic customers, it doesn’t mean that the company’s products and capabilities are no longer needed. Not there.”

Since last July, when a group of international rights and media organizations revealed that NSO’s Pegasus program was used to hack the phones of journalists, politicians and human rights activists in several countries, including India, the onus was on Israel to stop it. There is intense pressure. Export of spyware.

NSO has been sued and punished by large technology businesses around the world, who accuse their consumers of putting their consumers at risk of hacking. In countries where the Israeli leadership feels threatened, the organization has also been accused of spying and hacking strategic software.

In the case of the US, the Commerce Department placed NSO on a blacklist in 2021, citing evidence that the company developed and distributed spyware to foreign governments, who then used it to maliciously target people in various regions. Used to do

After NSO was blacklisted, according to Axios, a debate broke out within Tel Aviv over whether Israel should approach the Biden administration on behalf of the corporation to remove it from the blacklist.

Recently, the US Supreme Court asked the administration to review whether courts should hear a lawsuit in which WhatsApp accuses NSO of tracking messengers using a spying flaw in the program.

It should be noted here that in October 2019, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against NSO, alleging it accessed its servers without permission six months earlier to install Pegasus software on mobile devices.

The messaging platform accused the Israeli corporation of violating its terms of service and causing damage to “reputation, public trust and goodwill” in its first court trial.

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