The Israel Security Agency Uses Spyware for Wiretapping and Covert Surveillance.
Following our appeals to the Attorney General regarding police use of Pegasus spyware, on February 22, 2022, we also appealed to the Attorney General regarding the Israel Security Agency’s (ISA) use of spyware.
In the appeal, Attorney Gil Gan-Mor, Director of ACRI’s Civil and Social Rights Unit, claimed that just as the Wiretapping Law does not permit police use of spyware, it also prohibits ISA use due to the same rationale. We claimed that the concern we raised about police use of spyware is heightened when used by the ISA, which carries out wiretapping without court orders, covertly, and also for intelligence-gathering purposes.
Moreover, we addressed the possibility that the ISA also uses Pegasus spyware or other spyware for the purpose of covert surveillance on smartphones, based on Section 10 of the Securities Law, which permits the covert search of vehicles and premises. We claimed that ISA's use of spyware for covert surveillance, on the basis of this clause, would be illegal and unacceptable, as the interpretation of the clause may not be expanded to apply authority for covert surveillance of vehicles and premises to smartphones. We noted that in the past, an amendment to the law was promoted to permit the ISA to carry out covert surveillance of computers, too, yet the amendment was neither passed nor legislated.
In sum, we claimed that in the absence of an explicit legal source, the Attorney General should instruct the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and head of the ISA that the ISA lacks the authority to use spyware, both for wiretapping and covert surveillance purposes.