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Biden administration blacklists Israeli company that supplied Pegasus spyware

Biden administration blacklists Israeli company that supplied Pegasus spyware

Washington, Nov 3 (UNI) The US Commerce Department on Wednesday said that NSO Group, the Israeli company that supplied Pegasus spyware to several countries including India, has been placed under the Entity List, a blacklist that would restrict exports of US technology to the company.
In July, the company, NSO, was engulfed in controversy over reports that thousands of people, including human rights activists, journalists, politicians and business executives were targets of the Pegasus software, which could infect smartphones turning them into spying devices.
The Commerce Department in a statement said that “NSO Group and Candiru (Israel) were added to the Entity List based on evidence that these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers."
“These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent. Such practices threaten the rules-based international order, “ it said.
The companies were added to the Entity List for “engaging in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. The four entities are located in Israel, Russia, and Singapore.”
The other companies in the Entity List were Positive Technologies (Russia), and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE. LTD. (Singapore), based on a determination that they traffic in cyber tools used to gain unauthorized access to information systems, threatening the privacy and security of individuals and organizations worldwide.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo in a statement said: “The United States is committed to aggressively using export controls to hold companies accountable that develop, traffic, or use technologies to conduct malicious activities that threaten the cybersecurity of members of civil society, dissidents, government officials, and organizations here and abroad.”
The End-User Review Committee (ERC) which is chaired by the Department of Commerce and includes the Departments of Defense, State, Energy, and where appropriate, Treasury, determined that the conduct of these four entities raises sufficient concerns to place them on the Entity List pursuant to § 744.11(b) of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).
It said: “Today’s action is a part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy, including by working to stem the proliferation of digital tools used for repression. This effort is aimed at improving citizens’ digital security, combatting cyber threats, and mitigating unlawful surveillance and follows a recent interim final rule released by the Commerce Department establishing controls on the export, reexport, or in-country transfer of certain items that can be used for malicious cyber activities.”
The Entity List is a tool utilized by BIS to restrict the export, reexport, and in-country transfer of items subject to the EAR to persons (individuals, organizations, companies) reasonably believed to be involved, have been involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. For the four entities added to the Entity List in this final rule, BIS imposes a license requirement that applies to all items subject to the EAR. In addition, no license exceptions are available for exports, reexports, or transfers (in-country) to the entities being added to the Entity List in this rule. BIS imposes a license review policy of a presumption of denial for these entities, it said.
UNI/RN

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