Probe clears Israel Police of unlawful NSO spyware phone hacking

NSO Group Credit: Shutterstock
NSO Group Credit: Shutterstock

An investigation headed by Deputy Attorney General Amit Marari has cleared the police of unlawful use without warrants but is critical of its conduct in using the spyware.

An investigation headed by Deputy Attorney General Amit Marari has not found any evidence that Israel Police used Saifan, a weaker version of NSO Group's Pegasus spyware to hack phones without court-issued warrants, as claimed in February by Israeli newspaper "Calcalist." The enquiry did not find any evidence of any other use by the police of NSO spyware without a warrant.

The investigation, with the assistance of technology experts, examined whether any of the figures listed by "Calcalist" had their phones hacked by NSO's Saifan without a warrant. The claim was found to be completely groundless.

However, the report from the investigation did confirm use of the spyware by Israel Police and concluded that there were legal difficulties in using such invasive software without amending existing legislation. The report also criticizes faulty conduct by the police in operating the software and recommends that it would be more appropriate for the police to provide more details to the courts when applying for orders to use the spyware to prevent judges from gaining the impression that routine phone tapping was involved.

The report also found that the police gathered excessive amounts of data from the photo hacking, which went beyond the court order received, although this occurred 'automatically' and the superfluous data was not used in any investigative capacity. The report recommends that the police adjust the software so that it does not extract unnecessary information.

"Calcalist said, "The report confirms the main findings of a serious of investigations that we published. Over eight years, the police hid use of the invasive spyware from the public, the State Attorney, the Attorney General and court judges. Calcalist is proud to have exposed the concealed use of the spyware, without legislation, supervision and due control."

Israel Police said that the report confirmed that in all cases it had operated subject to court-issued warrants.

Full disclosure: Globes and Yediot Ahronot financial newspaper Calcalist are rival publications

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on August 2 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

NSO Group Credit: Shutterstock
NSO Group Credit: Shutterstock
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