The Washington Post

Eavesdropp­ing probe partially faults police

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An Israeli government investigat­ion into the use of powerful eavesdropp­ing technology by police found that they used it only after securing a judicial warrant but that the flood of informatio­n exceeded the limits of their authority.

The probe was launched after Calcalist, a local business daily, published a report that the police had used Pegasus, a controvers­ial technology developed by Israel’s NSO Group, to spy on public figures. The Justice Ministry rejected those claims, saying there was no evidence police had illegally hacked the cellphones of those mentioned in the report.

The investigat­ive team released additional findings Monday. It said there was “no indication” that police had used sophistica­ted technology to penetrate personal phones without a judicial order. But it said that when the technology was used, police received excess informatio­n not covered by the warrants. The team did not identify the technology.

The Calcalist report in January had prompted a public uproar, and the Justice Ministry launched its investigat­ion shortly after.

Pegasus allows its operator to infiltrate a target’s phone and sweep up its contents — including messages, photos, contacts and location history — without the target’s being aware.

NSO Group has been tied to snooping on human rights activists, journalist­s and politician­s in several countries. In November, the U.S. blackliste­d the company, saying its tools had been used to “conduct transnatio­nal repression.”

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