Criticism and indignation rocked the world after the revelations of the Pegasus spyware program Jerusalem. A string of protests and condemnations in recent days, including by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has decimated the electronics sector – the so-called “startup nation” – and forced the government to act.
NSO, the company behind the Pegasus software, which repressive regimes have used against journalists and human rights activists, has been at the center of the ongoing scandal. But several other companies, Black Cube, Cellebrite, and Quadream, offer similar services.
Spyware that could take over A mobile phone without its owner opening a link gives dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan a huge advantage in their campaigns against critics and democrats.
High-tech companies and official Israeli spokespeople routinely insist that their equipment is aimed at combating terrorism and extremism. But those excuses sounded increasingly hollow during last week’s detailed reveal of the Pegasus program. Cooperation between 17 major media outlets, with the initiator from the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz”, documented a long list of violations of the products.
One for Israel in particular An alarming detail in this context is that many of the countries that bought the spyware did so shortly before or shortly after establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. Few doubt that the Departments of State and Defense actively assisted electronics companies in their marketing, which is officially rejected.
The controversy over cyber weapons is one aspect of the larger debate over Israeli arms exports. According to Stockholm-based SIPRI, Israel is the world’s eighth arms exporter and one of the largest importers. The main customers of Israel are India, Azerbaijan and Vietnam. Israel also has close and increasingly close cooperation with China, something that worries the United States and raises many sharp warnings from Washington.
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