Israeli police used Pegasus spyware on citizens, officials: report
Israeli police allegedly used Pegasus spyware on its citizens, Israeli newspaper Calcalist reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper says that police have had and used Pegasus spyware since 2013.
Pegasus spyware is developed by the private Israeli NSO group, a cyber intelligence technology firm.
Police allegedly used Pegasus to monitor anti-government protest leaders, among others, and did not always obtain the proper legal authorization, according to the newspaper.
Meirav Ben Ari, an Israeli legislator, said that the Israeli parliament plans to ask the police force for an explanation of its use of the hacking tool, according to Reuters.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said that monitoring activity “is carried out according to law,” reports Reuters. He verified that the police force is in possession of cyber technology, declining to confirm or deny the use of Pegasus specifically.
Shabtai claimed that for each use of cyber technology, “a request is filed with a court, which examines the matter.”
Calcalist said that the police force used Pegasus spyware to monitor “Black Flag” protesters calling for the resignation of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Shabtai denied this claim.
“This is a very disturbing incident,” said Ben Ari on Israel’s Channel 12 TV news. “Raising concerns about violation of privacy and democracy as a whole.”
NSO technology is blacklisted in the United States. It has been used to spy on journalists and human rights activists in multiple countries, stirring up international controversy.