US lawmakers call for sanctions against Israel’s NSO

And against other spyware firms as well.

A group of US lawmakers is asking the country’s Treasury Department and State Department to sanction Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and three other foreign surveillance companies they say helped authoritarian governments commit human rights abuses.

Their letter, seen by Reuters, also asks for sanctions on top executives at NSO, the United Arab Emirates cybersecurity company DarkMatter, and European online bulk surveillance companies Nexa Technologies and Trovicor.

The lawmakers asked for Global Magnitsky sanctions, which punishes those who are accused of enabling human rights abuses by freezing bank accounts and banning travel to the United States.

DarkMatter could not be reached for comment.

The other three companies did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The letter was signed by the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and 16 other Democratic lawmakers.

Along with other reporting on the industry, they cite a recent Reuters article this month showing that NSO spyware was used against State Department employees in Uganda.

The lawmakers said the spyware industry relies on US investment and banks.

“To meaningfully punish them and send a clear signal to the surveillance technology industry, the US government should deploy financial sanctions,” they wrote.

Read the article by  Joseph Menn and Joel Schectman in iTNews.