US defence contractor could take over Israeli NSO Group's Pegasus spyware: report

US defence contractor could take over Israeli NSO Group's Pegasus spyware: report
2 min read
15 June, 2022
Defence contractor L3Harris is in talks with NSO Group to take over the Israeli company's surveillance technology, but a senior White House official has expressed alarm over any potential deal
NSO Group was added to the US' Entity List last year [Jack Guez/AFP via Getty]

A US defence contractor is in talks with Israeli company NSO Group to take over its notorious Pegasus surveillance technology, according to reports on Tuesday.

Talks between NSO and defence contractor L3Harris revolve around the sale of the Israeli company's core technology and a potential transfer of its personnel to the US group, HaaretzThe Guardian, and The Washington Post jointly reported, citing multiple sources.

The NSO Group, which is regulated by Israel's defence ministry, shot to global recognition last year when human rights organisations and investigative journalists exposed how governments, including some in the Middle East and North Africa, were using its surveillance technology to track activists, dissidents and political rivals, among others.

NSO's supply of spyware to governments to be used "maliciously" on targets saw it added to the US' Entity List in November - so any deal with a US contractor would have to be approved by Washington.

The talks appear to have alarmed the White House.

"Such a transaction, if it were to take place, raises serious counterintelligence and security concerns for the US government," a senior White House official said in a statement.

The White House said that it had not been involved in "any way in this reported potential transaction".

Florida-based L3Harris sells surveillance tools to the US government and clients including the FBI and NATO, according to The Guardian.