Israel has narrowed its list of countries eligible to purchase its cybertechnologies over concerns over possible overseas abuse of a hacking tool sold by Israeli company NSO Group, Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist reported Thursday.
The newspaper, which did not disclose its sources, said Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates were among the countries that would now be banned from importing Israeli cyber technology. The list of countries allowed to buy it has been reduced to just 37 states, from 102.
The Israeli Defense Ministry, responding to the report, said in a statement that it takes “appropriate action” when the conditions of use set out in the export licenses it issues are violated, but has failed to confirmed that the licenses had been revoked.
Israel has been under pressure to curb spyware exports since July, when a group of international news agencies reported that NSO’s Pegasus tool had been used to hack the phones of journalists, government officials and militants. human rights in several countries.
These reports prompted Israel to review the cyber-export policy administered by the Defense Ministry.
Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, which both normalized relations with Israel last year, as well as Saudi Arabia and Mexico were among the countries where Pegasus has been linked with political surveillance, according to Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto which studies surveillance.
NSO has denied any wrongdoing, saying it only sells its tools to governments and law enforcement agencies and has safeguards in place to prevent abuse.
Earlier this month, U.S. officials placed NSO on a commercial blacklist for selling spyware to governments that misused it. The company said it was appalled by the move because its technologies “support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime.”
NSO has also been the subject of lawsuits and criticism from large tech companies who accuse it of exposing their customers to hacking. Apple Inc was the last to sue NSO this week.
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