Israel has established a commission to review allegations that NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus phone surveillance software was misused amid a hacking scandal that has roiled governments globally.
The announcement on Thursday by the head of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee came amid revelations that the Israeli firm’s spyware appears to have been used by governments in the surveillance of heads of states, opposition figures, activists and journalists, whose names were among some 50,000 potential targets on a list leaked to rights group Amnesty International and Paris-based Forbidden Stories.
The revelations sparked calls for accountability and increased controls on the international sale of spyware technology. Pegasus can hack into mobile phones without a user knowing, enabling clients to read every message, track a user’s location and tap into the phone’s camera and microphone.
Israeli legislator Ram Ben Barak, the former deputy head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, told Army Radio, “The defence establishment appointed a review commission made up of a number of groups” to probe the allegations.
‘Dig around from top to bottom’
NSO has said it exports to 45 countries with approval from the Israeli government.
Hulio said the company could not disclose the details of its contracts due to “issues of confidentiality”, but said he would offer full transparency to any government seeking more details.
“Let any state entity come along – any official from any state – and I’ll be prepared to open everything up to them, for them to enter, to dig around from top to bottom,” he said.