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Israel passes preliminary Bill to investigate unlawful use of spyware by police

This studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group which features 'Pegasus' spyware, on display in Paris on July 21, 2021. [JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images]
This studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group which features 'Pegasus' spyware, on display on 21 July 2021 [JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images]

Israeli opposition passed a Bill yesterday, calling for a state investigation into Israel's police use of the notorious Pegasus spyware against key Israeli figures, citizens and activists without approval, by a vote of 59-58.

However, the Bill, proposed by Yoav Kisch of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party, needs to go through three more votes before becoming law.

Following the vote, Yesh Atid, MK and Knesset Public Security Committee Chairwoman, Meirav Ben-Ari, said, "This Bill was passed only thanks to the ignorance that swept the plenum," reported The Times of Israel.

"How many [opposition] Knesset members came to the discussions we held in the committee on the subject?" Ben-Ari asked.

Israel's Calcalist newspaper, in an unsourced report in February, said police had used Pegasus without judges' warrants against public figures, including a son and confidantes of former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Internal Security Minister, Omer Bar-Lev, said a total of 26 people had been reported by Calcalist to have had Pegasus improperly used against them.

READ: UAE used Israel spyware to hack UK government

The NSO software was made infamous last year when the University of Toronto's internet watchdog, Citizen Lab, exposed numerous governments' misuse of the software through the hacking of around 50,000 phones and devices belonging to journalists, human rights activists and political critics worldwide.

Amongst those client governments were Gulf Arab States, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Moreover, Apple had filed a lawsuit against NSO and its parent company, OSY Technologies, in an effort to stop the spyware company from targeting any Apple devices.

NSO is an Israeli company specialising in the development of cyber-espionage tools. It was founded in 2010.

Israel's Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israel's Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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