Israeli police reportedly used Pegasus spyware to carry out domestic surveillance

Deepak Gupta January 18, 2022
Updated 2022/01/18 at 6:55 PM

Israeli police used NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to extract data from phones belonging to Israeli citizens, according to a government investigation. business publication. Police reportedly used the controversial software to target a number of individuals, including politicians and members of an activist group that called for the removal of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the report, Israeli police carried out their surveillance without court supervision, an allegation that both the police and public officials deny.

“All police activity in this camp is done in accordance with the law, based on court orders and strict work procedures,” Israeli police said. reports Omer Bar-Lev, the country’s public security minister, said an initial investigation found no evidence of a “secret wiretapping” program, but promised that a judge would verify everything “completely and unambiguously”.

“We would like to clarify that the company does not operate the systems in its customers’ possession and is not involved in their operation,” the NSO Group said in a statement the company shared with Israeli media. “The company sells its products under license and supervision for use by law enforcement agencies and state law enforcement agencies, to prevent crime and terrorism legally, and in accordance with court orders and local laws in each country.”

Per , Israeli law only allows Shin Bet, the country’s domestic intelligence agency, to hack into a phone without a court order. Furthermore, the only context in which the agency is allowed to take such action is to prevent a terrorist attack involving Palestinians, Israeli Arabs or Israeli Jews. Approval from a senior Shin Bet official or the attorney general’s office is also required. There is no such exemption for the country’s police service. However, according to calcalist, the software was not directly covered by Israel’s existing laws.

The report comes a month later Reuters discovered that Pegasus spyware had been used to target . In this case, an unknown assailant used the software to target federal employees who were stationed in Uganda or whose work involved the African country. NSO claimed that its software cannot target devices linked to US or Israeli phone numbers.

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