November 04, 2019

Human Rights Activists Petition Israeli Court To Cancel Export License Of Whatsapp Snooping Spyware Company

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


Nearly 30 human rights activists supported by the Amnesty International have petitioned an Israeli court in Tel Aviv to direct the Israeli government to cancel the export license of the NOS Group which sells the Pegasus spyware to foreign governments.

Accordingly, on November 7, a district court in Israel is all set to hear arguments on why Israel’s Ministry of Defense needs to cancel the Pegasus developer NSO Group’s export license.

Amnesty International’s representatives have stated that they have urged Israel’s Ministry of Defence to cancel NSO’s export license.

The petition before a Tel Aviv court is part of a joint project with Nuew York University’s School of Law’s Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and Global Justice Clinic, which specializes in questions of justice “for human rights defenders targeted with malicious software”.

The main point which is being debated is why due oversight was not or has not been exercised despite the licensing of the software (Pegasus) regulated by Israel’s Defense Export Controls Agency (DECA) being under the same type of licensing requirements and export restrictions applicable to military weapons and national security systems.

Incidentally, Amnesty International has stated that its own activists were targeted by the NOS Group’s Pegasus spyware in June 2018. In a lawsuit brought before a US federal court recently, Facebook-owned WhatsApp alleged that the NSO Group targeted some 1,400 WhatsApp users with the Pegasus spyware.

The affidavit filed by Amnesty International in support of petitioners in the Tel Aviv court speaks of the role of the Israeli government in ensuring that NSO takes responsibility for the end-use of its software and stops selling it to governments to target human rights activists and political opponents.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has denied any involvement in the alleged cyber-hacking attack by the NSO Group.

Israeli security cabinet minister Zeev Elkin has stated that if anyone had done anything “forbidden” they could expect to find themselves in court”.

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