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Israeli court dismisses Amnesty's petition against spyware firm NSO

An Israeli court has rejected a request to strip the controversial Israeli spyware firm NSO Group of its export license over the suspected use of the company's technology in targeting journalists and dissidents worldwide. The case, brought by Amnesty International in January, called on the court to prevent NSO from selling its technology abroad, especially to repressive regimes.

Reuters WORLD
Published July 13,2020

An Israeli court has dismissed Amnesty International's legal bid to stop NSO Group from exporting surveillance software, saying the rights organization did not prove the company's technology had been used to spy on its members.

Amnesty alleged that governments around the world have used the Israeli company's cellphone hacking software, Pegasus, to crack down on activists, and petitioned to get NSO's export licence revoked.

A Tel Aviv District Court judge, however, found they did not present evidence to back up the claim that there had been an attempt to spy by hacking a human rights activist's phone, nor that such an attempt had been carried out by NSO, according to a court document.

The judge also ruled that Israel's Defense Ministry has enough safeguards in place to protect human rights in its export licensing process.

A study by University of Toronto's Citizen Lab has linked NSO's technology to political surveillance in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Targets of the alleged hacking spree included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.

NSO, whose customers include law enforcement and governments around the world, has denied the allegations. After the court decision it said it will "continue to supply technology to countries and intelligence agencies that is meant to save lives."

Amnesty was not reachable for immediate comment.