Economist corrects false claim about Israeli response to NSO row

An extremely tendentious July 31st article in The Economist on the NSO spyware row misleads in several respects, including the headline (“Israel is loth to regulate its spyware exports”), a claim which is contradicted by the article itself, here:

[a government] statement insisted that all Israeli cyber-exports were regulated by the government in “adherence to international arrangements”. Export licences were granted “exclusively to governmental entities, for lawful use, and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter-terrorism”.

And, here:

Israel’s Defence Export Control Law of 2007 requires companies to undergo a rigorous licensing process.

But, there was also a clear factual error in the following paragraph:

When international news organisations revealed that at least ten governments had used Pegasus, a powerful software tool created by Israel’s nso Group, to hack into the smartphones of thousands of people around the world, including politicians, human-rights activists and journalists, the Israeli government shrugged. None of its ministers has publicly commented.

However, as we pointed out to Economist editors, on July 24, Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai did publicly comment in an interview with Channel 12 News

The NSO Group spyware saga is highly damaging to Israel, including in terms of international support, and surveillance intel firms need to be reined in, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said on Saturday.

Shai told Channel 12 that the Israeli high-tech industry was widely admired and appreciated overseas, “but it turns out that a kind of rogue program has penetrated Israeli high-tech.”

“We have to make certain that entities [such as NSO] are not able to play in the international game, because they directly harm Israeli diplomatic interests and cause harm among those parts of the Jewish public that admire Israel because of its high-tech,” Shai said.

The Economist upheld our complaint, deleted the claim and added the following editor’s note to the article:

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