New reports released by The Jerusalem Post and local Israeli web portal Calcalist on November 25th, 2021 have revealed that the State of Israel is drastically cutting down its cyber tool export list. An exclusive report released by CTech, a section of the Israeli tech and startup news web portal Calcalist, states that the Israeli Ministry of Defense has slashed the number of countries Israel exports its cyber tools to.
This legislative purge comes after incidents involving Israeli NSO group and Candiru that have led to U.S. sanctions. The sanctions were a reflection of the misuse of technology with the intention to abuse human rights. NSO group tools, particularly smartphone spyware cyber tools such as the notorious Pegasus, have wreaked havoc across the world and affected Israel’s cybersecurity sector business operations.
Protests have been held in Israel that condemned the operations of the “oppressive” NSO group for its immoral stance on surveillance. As a result, Israel has had to modify how it allies with world governments as its image and Western relations have seemingly been tarnished beyond repair.
Key Points in Calcalist CTech Report
According to the Calcalis CTech report, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has “reduced the number of countries approved for export of cyber tools by Israeli companies from 102 to 37.” This update means that the list of countries local Israeli companies can export cyber tools to has been drastically altered. Especially notable here is that the list mainly includes “western European countries, the U.S., and Canada.” Here is the full list of countries as stated in the report:
- Austria, Italy, Iceland, Ireland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Greece, Luxembourg, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Malta, Norway, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Czech Republic, France, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, United States, and Canada.
The updated list does not include countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Mexico, or the UAE.
Further information reveals that the new export cut will incur losses for Israeli cybersecurity companies that are known for their expertise in offensive cyber tools. The new export cut will particularly hamper Israel’s opportunity to sell such cyber tools “to operate in countries with totalitarian regimes or with a record of violating human rights.”
Other Takeaways From The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post stated that there is no confirmed evidence of the modified list pointing to the abuse of cyber tool technology. They wrote that both the Calcalist piece and the Ministry produced no clear evidence “that all 65 countries removed from the approved list had committed abuses with the technology or whether this was a partial public relations move to – at least for now – end the sale of cyber products to non-democracies.”
Furthermore, according to the report, “cyber and defense” officials believe that this reduced list “will not make the world better” but will open the doors for other “rivals” such as Iran, China, and Russia to come in as new sellers.
A Message From The Israeli Ministry of Defense
The Israeli Ministry of Defense explained to Calcalist that Israel is “constantly reassessing its policy on supervising its defense export in general, including its policy on supervising the export of cyber products.”