US Blacklists Pegasus Spyware Creator NSO Group

The US has put the Israeli maker of the Pegasus spyware on a blacklist of restricted companies due to a scandal over surveillance of journalists, politicians, and other officials.

There are thousands of reports where the Pegasus software was used to spy on human rights activists, journalists, politicians and business executives worldwide.

Due to this, the company, NSO, was engulfed in controversy.

Any smartphone which has Pegasus installed (discreetly) are turned into pocket spying devices, allowing 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… 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.

With the addition of the company to the blacklist, exports to them from US organizations are restricted. For example, it is now far harder for American researchers to sell them information or technology.

Meanwhile, NSO retorted back at the decision, saying its “technologies support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime.”

“We will advocate for this decision to be reversed,” a NSO spokesperson told AFP, adding its compliance controls have resulted in “multiple terminations of contacts with government agencies that misused our products.”

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