More Fallout For NSO And Israel: Gov't Police Illegally Deployed Malware Against Person Involved In Netanyahu Bribery Trial
from the one-leak,-apparently-endless-repercussions dept
More troubling developments for both NSO Group and the country it calls home.
Less than a month ago, both entities found themselves in midst of another turbulent news cycle, thanks to reporting from Calcalist that showed Israel police were using NSO spyware to engage in domestic surveillance. Worse, the people targeted weren’t just dangerous criminals or suspected terrorists.
Instead, like everywhere else NSO malware has been abused, Israeli police forces targeted activists protesting then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s CVOID restrictions, as well as mayors of Israeli cities. Also included on the list of hacking targets were former government employees and “a person close” to a senior politician. In some cases, the police used the malware to phish for information from targets’ phones, all without any reasonable suspicion these targets may have committed criminal acts.
On top of all that, the police deployed the malware without direct or judicial oversight. Utilizing a loophole in the law, investigators avoided seeking court authorization for these hacking attempts.
Israel police used spyware to access data in the phone of an individual involved in the trial of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a report said on Wednesday.
The hack, reported on Channel 13 News, was discovered by the Justice Ministry during its review of the police’s use of the spyware.
This hacking — like much of what was reported by Calcalist — was also likely illegal.
The police reportedly claimed that the investigators never received the data, which was gathered against the police’s procedures.
A failure to collect data is not the same thing as never engaging in illegal hacking at all, no matter how the police might try to spin this. The target of this attack still has yet to be identified, but the report contains a statement from the attorney representing Shaul and Iris Elovich, a couple accused of bribing Netanyahu.
There’s also this tantalizing detail, which shows the police may have been lying in its earlier statement to Calcalist about every use of NSO malware being legal and authorized by the proper court paperwork.
In a brief statement that doesn’t go into any specific cases, the police said “additional findings” from its internal probe “change in some ways” an earlier statement last month that ruled out any wrongdoing.
Hmm. Maybe don’t offer up blanket statements when you have no other evidence but knee-jerk defensiveness when you’ve been caught with your hand in the domestic surveillance cookie jar. The only “way” the earlier statement could “change” at this point is to contain admissions of wrongdoing and illegal searches. That correction — whenever it arrives — is going to leave deep, self-inflicted bruises on the Israel Police.