The Israeli creator of the Pegasus spyware was placed on a ‘black list’ by the United States government on Wednesday after it was discovered that the programme was being used to target government officials and journalists.
It has been reported that tens of thousands of human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and business leaders from all around the world have been designated as potential targets of NSO’s Pegasus programme, which has sparked widespread outrage.
With Pegasus, smartphones are effectively transformed into pocket espionage devices, allowing the user to read their target’s messages, browse through their images, track down where they are and even turn on their camera without the target being aware of it.
Foreign governments have used these tools to conduct trans-national repression, which is the practise of authoritarian governments of silencing dissent by targeting dissidents, journalists, and activists outside of their own sovereign borders, according to a statement from the United States Commerce Department.
The United States also targeted the Israeli company Candiru, the Singapore-based Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE (COSEINC), and the Russian firm Positive Technologies, according to a statement from the White House.
The inclusion of the corporations on the so-called “entity list” means that exports to them from organisations in the United States are prohibited. For example, selling information or technology to Chinese researchers has become much more difficult in recent years.
A request for comment from NSO did not receive a response right away.