Members of the Intelligence Committee in the US Congress demand an investigation into the Israeli offensive cyber company Paragon. The lawmakers are demanding answers regarding the purchase of the spy software that the company devalued, as well as regarding its use by the American Drug Enforcement Administration against American citizens, after it was revealed this month in the “New York Times” that he uses the Israeli company’s software in his operations. The manager claimed that the use of the tool was legal and was done only outside the borders of the United States.
The Chairman of the Intelligence Committee of the US Congress, Adam Schiff of California, sent a letter last week to the head of the Narcotics Administration, where he asked him about the unit’s use of Graphite software, which was developed by Paragon. “Such use could have consequences for the national security of the United States, such as Also act contrary to the attempt to reduce the widespread distribution of powerful espionage tools to autocratic regimes and others that might abuse them,” Schiff wrote.
Paragon was founded by Ehud Schneerson, former commander of 8200, along with other veterans of the unit, and one of the main investors in it is the former Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. Similar to NSO’s Pegasus software, Paragon’s tool is able to penetrate the target’s mobile phone and extract messages, videos, photos and other content. The system is suitable for cases where authorized wiretapping warrants are used to collect information between specific dates and also for bringing historical information.
Tougher restrictions compared to competitors
As part of the global criticism of the offensive cyber industry, and of the Israeli companies in the industry, the Paragon company tried to adapt itself to the new era. From a conversation with a person who had business contact with Paragon and spoke with Globes about a year ago, a picture emerges of a company that has imposed tougher restrictions on itself than its competitors do. First, the company does not extract the entire contents of the device, but focuses on collecting transactional information – that is, only information from a conversation made in chat applications such as Telegram or Signal – whether it is a voice conversation or correspondence. For a demonstration, it will allow recording a conversation between two parties – one from each phone – but will not allow activation of the microphone in order to record a conversation between people in a closed room. These characteristics make it suitable for security and enforcement forces as well as for intelligence agencies that wish to adhere to the more precise definition of wiretapping.
In addition, the company limited itself to working with intelligence agencies, security services and enforcement forces in only 39 Western countries that meet the conditions of an enlightened democracy, with the exception of a few countries in East Asia and Israel – which do not fall under this definition.
The company’s representatives in Israel have not yet given a response.