The American defense contractor L3 Harris has canceled its talks with NSO Group to acquire surveillance technology after the White House announced that any potential deal would constitute “serious counterintelligence and security concerns for the U.S. government.”
The Guardian reported that the White House stood as an initial obstacle to L3 Harris purchasing the Israeli company’s surveillance technology, which in the past had been used to hack 11 U.S. State Department employees’ smartphones, before being moved off the table with “certainty.”
The cyber-arms company, which is responsible for the development of smartphone spyware technology such as Pegasus, was placed on a U.S. blacklist by the Biden administration last November after the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security resolved that the firm had acted “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the U.S.”
Originally, a person who claims to be familiar with the negotiations said L3 Harris had vetted NSO’s technology with its customers in the U.S. government and had received indications of support from the American intelligence community.
But an anonymous U.S. official questioned that characterization, stating, “We are unaware of any indications of support or involvement from anyone in a decision-making, policymaking or senior role.” The official also added that the intelligence community had “raised concerns and was not supportive of the deal.”