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Blackstone Backs Out of Talks to Acquire a Share in Surveillance Company

Blackstone Backs Out of Talks to Acquire a Share in Surveillance Company

Following an early Calcalist report, digital rights advocacy group Access Now published a petition calling Blackstone to back out of deal

Hagar Ravet | 15:28  17.08.2017
Blackstone backed out from month long discussions to buy a 40% stake in Israel-based mobile surveillance company NSO Group for $400 Million, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Reuters reported about the termination of the negotiations on Tuesday.

NSO cofounders Omri Lavie (left) and Shalev Hulio (right) NSO cofounders Omri Lavie (left) and Shalev Hulio (right) NSO cofounders Omri Lavie (left) and Shalev Hulio (right)

NSO sells its mobile surveillance software to governments and law enforcement agencies. Once installed on a mobile device, the software supplies operators with access to calls and messages, as well as some level of control of the device.

San Francisco-based Francisco Partners, a private equity firm with $10 billion under management, paid $130 million for 70 percent of its shares in 2014.

According to a February report by Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, NSO's software was used by the Mexican government to spy on activists, journalists, and junior opposition members.

In 2016 Citizen Lab researchers said the software was used by the United Arab Emirates to spy on human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor.

Following a Calcalist report about the talks, digital rights advocacy group Access Now published a petition calling Blackstone to back out of the deal last month.

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