Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recently answered a question about NSO Group, an Israeli cyber surveillance firm that sells hacking tools and was recently blacklisted by the U.S. government.
“NSO is a private company, it is not a governmental project and therefore even if it is designated, it has nothing to do with the policies of the Israeli government…I don’t think there is another country in the world which has such strict rules according to cyber warfare and that is imposing those rules more than Israel and we will continue to do so.”
Our rating: Mostly false, deliberately misleading.
While NSO Group is privately owned, numerous data points, referenced in the above research video, show that the Israeli government does have direct involvement with the company. Among other things, NSO Group itself has stated (p.4) that,
“the Israeli Ministry of Defense…conducts its own analysis of potential customers from a human rights perspective.”
Multiple reports have established that authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Hungary, have purchased NSO Group hacking tools to spy on journalists, activists, and other citizens. This, coupled with NSO Group’s own declaration that the Israeli government conducts analyses of potential clients proves that Lapid’s statement is misleading.