The Israeli Ministry of Defense said on Monday that the export of network products, such as spyware sold by the NSO Group, is used for legitimate purposes, with the sole purpose of fighting crime and counter-terrorism.
An investigation by 17 media organizations released on Sunday stated that NSO’s spyware was used to successfully invade 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights defenders. Reuters was unable to independently verify these allegations.
NSO denied the so-called “false allegations” made by these organizations and stated that it only sells technology to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of the government under review.
The company said: “Our technology is used every day to break pedophile groups, sex trafficking and drug trafficking groups, locate missing and kidnapped children, locate survivors trapped under collapsed buildings, and protect airspace from The destructive penetration of dangerous drones.”
The Ministry of Defense stated in its own statement that Israel has approved the export of network products to government entities “only for legal use, and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter-terrorism.”
“For the use of exported items in violation of export licenses or end-use certificates, appropriate measures will be taken,” the ministry said, but did not elaborate.
Earlier in the day, Minister of Health Nizan Horowitz, leader of the Liberal Merets Party and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision-making security cabinet, told reporters that he would meet with Defense Minister Benny on Thursday. Gantz, discuss the export issue of NSO Group.
At a televised meeting of the Meretz faction, the legislator Mosilaz called on the party to demand that Israel stop the export of the National Bureau of Statistics, which he likened to “exporting weapons to non-democratic countries.”
But Yair Golan, another member of the Meretz Congress and former Israeli Deputy Military Commissioner, was more cautious, saying that the NSO report “seems to be commercially motivated” and added: “It’s not just the NSO that will do these things.”
© Thomson Reuters 2021