Washington: Amid the scooping scandal exposed with the alleged use of its spyware Pegasus, Israeli surveillance software company NSO Group has temporarily blocked several government clients around the world from using the spyware as the company investigates its possible misuse, Washington-based non-profit media outlet NPR reported.
On Thursday, an NSO employee told NPR that the company was investigating the possible misuse of its Pegasus spyware.
"There is an investigation into some clients. Some of those clients have been temporarily suspended," the NSO employee told NPR, but didn't name the government agencies or the countries where Pegasus had been suspended.
The alleged use of the Pegasus software to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and others in a number of countries, including India, has triggered concerns over issues relating to privacy.
As per a report by PTI, Mercury Public Affairs, which represents NSO Group, on Thursday said in a statement that the company is working in full transparency with the Israeli authorities. It also expressed confidence that this inspection will prove the facts are as declared repeatedly by the Company against the false allegations made against them in the recent media attacks.
NSO says it has 60 customers in 40 countries, all of them intelligence agencies, law enforcement bodies and militaries, the reports said.
It says in recent years, before the media reports, it blocked its software from five governmental agencies, including two in the past year, after finding evidence of misuse.
As per a report by the Washington Post, the clients suspended include Saudi Arabia, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and some public agencies in Mexico.
NSO's ongoing internal investigation checked some of the telephone numbers of people that NSO's clients reportedly marked as potential targets.
"Almost everything we checked, we found no connection to Pegasus," the employee said, declining to elaborate on potential misuse NSO may have uncovered.
NSO "will no longer be responding to media inquiries on this matter and it will not play along with the vicious and slanderous campaign," the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of company policy, said.
The Israeli government has also faced pressure since it regulates the sale of spyware technology to other countries. It has launched a probe into allegations against NSO.
The company says it only sells its spyware to countries for the purpose of fighting terrorism and crime.
Nearly three weeks before Pegasus Project stories were published, NSO released its first report outlining its policies on combating the misuse of its technology and protecting human rights.
It cites a new procedure adopted last year to investigate allegations of potential software misuse.