A Hebrew state parliamentary committee will investigate Pegasus spyware, a controversial tool proposed by the Israeli company NSO group. Angela Merkel, in particular, has called for more restrictions on the marketing of these systems.
The Israeli parliament has set up a commission to investigate the controversial spyware Pegasus, an Israeli lawmaker reported on July 22.
“The Defense has appointed a committee made up of a number of groups,” said Ram Ben-Barak, Israeli deputy head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Hebrew state parliament, the Knesset.
“At the end of the investigation […] we will assess whether we need to make corrections, ”added this former deputy director of Mossad (the Israeli external intelligence services).
The Pegasus software, designed by the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO, is at the heart of a global spy scandal that has prompted the NGO Reporters Without Borders to demand a moratorium on its sales, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular, to ask for more restrictions on the marketing of these systems.
Pegasus denounces “a well-orchestrated media campaign”
The organizations Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International obtained a list of 50,000 phone numbers, selected by NSO clients since 2016 for potential monitoring, and shared it with a consortium of 17 media outlets who revealed its existence on July 18 . Pegasus would have made it possible to spy on the numbers of at least 180 journalists, 85 human rights activists or even 14 heads of state including French President Emmanuel Macron, which NSO denies. The company claims that its software is used only to obtain information on criminal or terrorist networks.
On July 21, NSO issued a press release in which it, among other things, denounced “a well-orchestrated media campaign” against it and specified that it would no longer respond to press requests on this affair.
The next day, the CEO of the group denounced in an interview on army radio an attempt to “dirty the entire Israeli cyber industry” and said he was “very favorable” to an investigation to “whitewash” his company. Allowing to infiltrate computer systems, Pegasus is considered an offensive cybersecurity product and must therefore obtain the green light from the Israeli Ministry of Defense to be sold to third countries, like a weapon.
The group claims to have sold Pegasus to more than 40 countries, each time with the agreement of the Israeli authorities.