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US blacklists Pegasus owner NSO under export control

US blacklists Pegasus owner NSO under export control

Washington: The creator of the controversial spyware Pegasus, NSO Group of Israel, was brought under export controls by the United States government on Wednesday, The Indian Express reported. Pegasus caught the storm outrage after an investigation revealed its alleged use to target journalists, human rights activists, Opposition leaders across the world came to light.

The US Department of Commerce (DoC) said in a statement that along with NSO, Candiru, another Israeli firm, also added to the Entity List. Also, Positive Technologies (Russia) and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy Pte Ltd (Singapore).

Based on the evidence, these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used it to target people maliciously. Adding to the Entity List will limit their access to US components and technology by requiring government permission for exports.

DoC added that the spyware also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, that is, authoritarian governments targeting dissidents and journalists outside their sovereign borders to silence dissent. These practices have threatened the international order.

It further said that the move by the US government is part of the efforts to put human rights at the centre of the US's foreign policy, which includes working to stem the spread of digital tools used for repression. It also aims to improve the digital security of citizens, combating cyber threats and mitigating unlawful surveillance.

The Supreme Court of India has ordered a thorough enquiry into the allegations of unauthorised surveillance against Pegasus in the country. Three editors of The Indian Express were among the 40 journalists and 100 plus others whose phone numbers were found in a leaked list of potential targets of Pegasus. Rahul Gandhi, Ashwani Vaishnaw, Prashant Kishor, Abhishek Banerjee, Prahlad Patel, Ashok Lavasa and Rakesh Asthana were the other prominent people on the list.

Israel's new ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, declined to be drawn into the issue and called it an internal matter of India when asked whether Israel would cooperate with the committee tasked with the probe in India.

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