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Mind the Tech NY

NSO Does Not Track Israeli, American Numbers, Says Co-President

Tami Mazel Shachar spoke at Calcalist’s third annual Mind the Tech conference in New York

Omer Kabir | 14:34  14.04.2019
Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO cannot confirm nor deny selling its spyware to Saudi Arabia, NSO co-president Tami Mazel Shachar said Thursday at Calcalist’s third annual Mind the Tech conference in New York. Asked whether she can guarantee NSO will not sell to Saudi Arabia in the future, Mazel Shachar said: “we never discuss our clients.”

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In October, researchers at Citizen Lab, a digital and human rights research group operating out of the University of Toronto, published a report alleging that the Saudi regime used NSO spyware to track dissidents, including slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

On Thursday, Mazel Shachar said that while it is important to NSO to affirm that the company had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s murder, NSO will not make any statements about its existing clients. However, Mazel Shachar said, as an Israeli company with American owners, NSO will not track Israeli or American phones.

NSO’s surveillance software, Pegasus, can remotely take over a smartphone via a seemingly benign text message, giving its operator full access to calls, messages, and any other data stored on the device. NSO said on multiple occasions that it sells exclusively to governments and law enforcement agencies.

According to Mazel Shachar, Pegasus is in very limited use. “It is not a tool for mass surveillance,” she said. “We are not an intelligence agency, but a tech company. We leave the tough decisions to the agencies.”
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