The NSO, the Israeli company that provides software used to wiretap leaders, opposition leaders and activists around the world, has been blacklisted. The Department of Commerce claims that the company’s activities are against US interests and endanger national security. It is currently banned from exporting to the United States.
The ministry said the software helps repressive governments monitor foreign journalists, human rights activists and protesters in an attempt to silence them.
Investigative journalists from the French ally Forbidden Stories brought the case to light. Among other things, they discovered that the Pegasus software was used against prominent figures such as French President Emmanuel Macron and Moroccan King Mohammed VI. The fiance of slain Saudi columnist Jamal Kashoki and more than 180 journalists from leading news organizations were under surveillance. Contrary to NSO findings.
The United States has listed three more companies involved in malicious cyber activities: Israel’s Cantry, Russia’s Positive Technologies and Singapore’s Computer Security Initiative Consulting. The move is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to make human rights the focus of foreign policy.