Israeli tech firm NSO Group, which has garnered global attention, including in India, amid alleged abuse of controversial spyware Pegasus, appears to have a large presence in The European Union with at least 22 contracts covers 12 of the 27 member states, a media report said on Wednesday. Pegasus spyware and competing products can infect surveillance victims’ cell phones, then allow moderators to eavesdrop on chats, read apps with encrypted messages and provides full access to the contacts and files on the device.
The Pegasus Spyware allows real-time eavesdropping on what’s going on around the cell phone by operating the camera and microphone.
Representatives of the European Parliament’s Commission of Inquiry into Pegasus spyware recently visited Israel and learned from NSO personnel with which the company has active contracts with 12 European Union members, Daily Ha’aretz report.
The newspaper added that the Israeli cyberwar firm’s responses to the commission’s questions revealed that the company is currently working with 22 security and enforcement organizations in the EU.
Company representatives in conversations and exchanges with PTI have asserted that its spyware is used by “government clients” to target terrorists and other serious criminals.
Members of the European Parliament Investigative Committee traveling to Israel are said to have been surprised to discover contracts with their country of origin.
Committee representatives have visited Israel in recent weeks “for an in-depth understanding of the local cyberwar industry”, and held discussions with NSO staff, representatives of the Ministry of Defense Israel and local experts.
Among the committee members was a Catalan lawmaker whose mobile phone was hacked by an NSO client, the report noted.
The commission was established after Project Pegasus was announced last year, and its goal is to create Europe-wide regulations for the acquisition, importation and use of strategic software, the report said. fight like Pegasus”.
“But while the committee members are in Israel, and especially since they’ve returned to Brussels, it shows that Europe also has a well-developed cyberwar industry – and many of its clients. are European countries,” it said.
EU lawmakers were tasked with finding out the identities of current European NSO clients and were surprised to discover that most EU countries have contracts with the company: 14 countries already have contracts with the company. have done business with NSO in the past, and at least 12 countries are still using Pegasus for legally intercepting mobile calls, according to NSO’s response to committee questions.
In response to questions from lawmakers, the company explained that NSO currently works with 22 “end users” – security, intelligence and law enforcement organizations – in 12 European countries. .
The report says that in some countries more than one client is a client of the operating organizations.
Previously, according to the NSO’s submission, the company worked with two other countries with which ties have now been severed. NSO did not disclose which countries are active customers and which two countries the contract has been frozen with.
NSO reportedly did not respond to Haaretz’s request for comment.
Israel, in early January this year, shied away from controversy blacklisted by the NSO Group following allegations of illegal use of its Pegasus spyware against government officials, activists, and activists. activists and journalists globally, saying that they are a private company and that it has nothing to do with Israeli government policies.
“NSO is a private company, it is not a government project and therefore, even if it is designated, it has nothing to do with Israeli government policies,” the foreign minister said. Israel then and now Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke to the press. conference day after the company was blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce.