Fri 26 November 2021:
Israel’s Defense Ministry is reportedly imposing new restrictions on where its cybersecurity firms can sell their surveillance and hacking technologies, drastically reducing the number of countries that are permitted for such deals.
The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, which became Israel’s new partners under the Abraham Accords last year, are noticeably absent from the current list. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Defense Ministry cut the list of approved states from 102 to 37, the Defense Ministry also excluded Saudi Arabia.
According to Israel’s Calcalist newspaper, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, South Korea, and dozens of European countries survived the purge.
The move comes after the US Commerce Department blacklisted Israeli companies NSO Group and Candiru earlier this month for allegedly supplying spyware to governments that used the technology to commit human rights violations.
“These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent,” Washington said. “Such practices threaten the rules-based international order.”
Apple filed a lawsuit against NSO on Tuesday, alleging that its Pegasus phone-hacking software was used to infect thousands of iPhones around the world. Clients were able to target dissidents, activists, journalists, and politicians, among others, after breaching those phones. The military-grade equipment is apparently intended for the prevention of crime and terrorism.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, NSO is in danger of defaulting on $500 million in debt due to legal issues and falling revenue.
According to Calcalist, Israel’s Defense Ministry is “constantly reassessing” its position on cybersecurity exports. “The state of Israel only approves the export of cyber products for governmental organizations, to be used in a manner and for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and fighting terror,” according to the ministry.
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