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19 Nov 2019

Oded Yaron, Haaretz

Commentary: NSO Group gives lots of justifications for selling spy tech. Facebook's lawsuit proves them wrong

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According to NSO, its products are sold only to intelligence and law enforcement agencies after careful screening. The company stated in part that its products “assist its clients in their war on terror, pedophilia and serious crimes,” adding that “any other use of the company’s products is forbidden and invalid.”... But [a] contract attached to the lawsuit [brought by Facebook] governs a transaction worth millions of dollars between a local company representing NSO in Ghana and that country’s National Communications Authority. The authority doesn’t deal with law enforcement, making it unclear why it needed an advanced offensive cybertechnology tool... [T]he system was never delivered to either the communications authority or the NSCS. Instead, as was revealed in court testimony, it ended up at the private home of Baba Kamara, a senior adviser to Ghana’s president... NSO told Haaretz that the company’s system had never been installed in any private home.

... NSO claims that, while it develops offensive cybertechnological tools, it doesn’t operate them itself... [However] they also offer a support package [to clients]... [which] raises a number of questions regarding the kind of information NSO is privy to... Haaretz asked NSO what steps it takes if its equipment is misused and if it has ever halted service to a client that misused its technology. The company refused to respond to the questions.

Part of the following timelines

WhatsApp sues Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO Group, accusing it of hacking the phones of human rights activists & journalists

NSO Group lawsuit (re hacking WhatsApp users)