FBI Admits Breach of White House Policy in NSO Group Deal.

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The New York Times previously reported a breach of White House policy by an unidentified federal agency conducting a secretive business deal with the NSO Group, a spyware vendor known for selling powerful surveillance tools. Now, the FBI has confirmed that it was the agency involved in the controversial deal. However, the bureau claims it was deceived by a federal contractor, Riva Networks, and had no knowledge of the deal’s specifics.

NSO Group’s Troubled History

NSO Group has been embroiled in spying scandals globally and was blacklisted by the U.S. government in November 2021, hindering its investment opportunities involving American interests. Despite this, Riva Networks managed to finalize a deal with NSO just five days after the White House’s policy change, acquiring the geolocation tool “Landmark” to help federal law enforcement track specific mobile users. The FBI used a cover name for Riva, “Cleopatra Holdings,” during the deal, and the company’s CEO, Robin Gamble, used the pseudonym “William Malone.”

FBI Claims to Be Deceived

The FBI contends that it was unaware of the specifics of the “Landmark” deal and that Riva misled them into believing the tool was an in-house product rather than NSO’s. They claim Riva used the tool on behalf of the U.S. government without the FBI’s knowledge. The bureau maintains that they were seeking fugitives and provided phone numbers to Riva for tracking, while Riva performed the actual spying aided by NSO’s tool.

Unanswered Questions

Despite the FBI’s explanation, questions remain. It’s unclear why the bureau seemed unaware of the deal’s details and why Riva would allegedly deceive the government. The situation raises concerns about the oversight of the FBI’s operations and its reliance on contractors for surveillance work. The agency’s handling of the situation has drawn criticism, given its role as the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Yahoo News

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