After the NSO scandal: Israel promises stricter export controls for cyber products

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It was triggered by another report of the use of NSO tools against US citizens. Israel now officially prohibits the use of offensive cyber tools against government critics.

The Israel Defense Exports Control Agency has announced that it will enforce stricter rules on the export of offensive cyber tools. The announcement came days after multiple media outlets revealed tools from Israeli cyber company NSO Group were used to hack the phones of at least 11 US State Department officials based in Uganda.

As reported by the Jerusalem Post, the agency has released a revised version of its “End User Declaration” that countries must sign before they can gain access to powerful espionage technology such as NSO Group’s Pegasus. It states that customers may not use the tools to attack government critics or “make political statements”, but only to prevent terrorism and “serious crimes”. Any country that ignores the declaration will lose access to cyber tools, according to the document.

The US government sanctioned the NSO Group in November after months of reports that dictatorships had used the technology on a large scale to hack into the devices of opposition activists, human rights activists, political leaders and others.

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