France adjusts Macron's security protocols as Israel eyes spyware export curbs

An outcry was triggered by a global investigation by a group of international media organisations which reported over the past few days that the spyware was used in hacking smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists and officials. "Obviously we're taking (this) very seriously," Attal told reporters hours after an emergency cabinet meeting focused on the Pegasus allegations.


Reuters | Updated: 22-07-2021 21:48 IST | Created: 22-07-2021 21:48 IST
France adjusts Macron's security protocols as Israel eyes spyware export curbs

France has decided to adapt President Emmanuel Macron's security protocols in light of the Pegasus spyware case, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Thursday, in one of the first concrete actions announced in relation to the scandal. Attal did not say if Macron's phone had been hacked and did not say what protocols had been changed, but an official in Macron's Elysee Palace said his phone and phone numbers had been changed.

In Israel, where NSO Group, which sells the Pegasus software, is based, a senior lawmaker said a parliamentary panel may look into spyware export restrictions. NSO says its software is used to fight crime and terrorism and has denied any wrongdoing. An outcry was triggered by a global investigation by a group of international media organisations which reported over the past few days that the spyware was used in hacking smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists and officials.

"Obviously we're taking (this) very seriously," Attal told reporters hours after an emergency cabinet meeting focused on the Pegasus allegations. Le Monde newspaper and Radio France broadcaster reported on Tuesday that Macron's phone was on a list of potential targets for surveillance by Morocco. The two media said that they did not have access to Macron's phone and could not verify if his phone had indeed been spied on.

Morocco has rejected these allegations. Amid mounting EU concern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin that spyware should be denied countries where there is no judicial oversight.

Hungarian prosecutors on Thursday launched an investigation into multiple complaints received in the wake of the reports. Israel has appointed an inter-ministerial team to assess reports based on an investigation by 17 media organisations that said Pegasus had been used in attempted or successful hacks of smartphones using malware that enables the extraction of messages, records calls and secretly activates microphones.

"We certainly have to look anew at this whole subject of licences granted by DECA," Ram Ben-Barak, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, told Israel's Army Radio, referring to the government-run Defence Export Controls Agency. NSO has rejected the reporting by the media partners as "full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories". Reuters has not independently verified the reporting. (Additional reporting by Gergely Szakacs in Budapest, Myriam Rivet, Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris Writing by Dan Williams and Ingrid Melander Editing by Gareth Jones, William Maclean)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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