The FBI Paid a Government Contractor That Used NSO Spying Tool On The Agency’s Behalf

Funding spyware.

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In an intense whirl of irony, the Federal Bureau of Investigation found itself caught in its own web of inquiries only to discover that it was behind the financing of a controversial spying tool. The tool, known as “Landmark,” was purchased by a contractor from NSO, an Israeli hacking firm, for use by the US government despite national blacklisting days prior.

Made infamous by recent reports, NSO was restricted by the Biden administration after egregious misuse of its spyware by governments worldwide. While Riva Networks, the infamous contractor was pointed out in the unfolding fiasco, it’s evident that the American establishment finds itself at sword’s points for turning a blind eye to the implications of using such tools.

Constructed by NSO, Landmark allowed officials to cloak and dagger individuals using surveillance in Mexico, a fact that now has the white hats at the FBI claiming ignorance to its usage. The Bureau asserts that Riva Networks misled them, leading to an inevitable termination of contracts once the reveal.

The issue at hand raises many questions – a prime one being the FBI’s choice to employ a contractor that had made headlines for purchasing similar NSO tools using coded names. Lack of oversight is glaringly apparent in this situation and yet unaddressed. Furthermore, it is not clear if any other government agencies were conspirators in deploying the spy tool in Mexico, The New York Times reported.

In addition to the FBI’s squirmish response, the timeline provided over the usage of spying tools coinciding with the periods of active usage in Mexico raises further concerns highlighting the lack of transparency within the Bureau.

Though the White House proclaims a crackdown on such practices, the NSO has found a way around, continuing its business. The silence of Riva Networks and its CEO, Robin Gamble, who have failed to respond to several requests for comment on the FBI’s allegations only stiffens the mystery.

NSO’s now-renowned spy tool, Pegasus, met fame for all the wrong reasons, its implications in scandalous international instances ranging from authoritarian governments spying on journalists to democracies infiltrating human rights activists and dissidents circles. Unsurprisingly, the Biden administration has blacklisted the firm, elucidating its stance but rendering its actions a hypocritical gray.

Leaving stones unturned, Riva Networks enjoyed a slew of profitable contracts with US government agencies, including — interestingly enough — the FBI and the Defense Department. As far as the FBI’s relationship with Riva Networks, there emerges the revelation of Riva Networks facilitating the Bureau’s purchase of the infamous spyware Pegasus. Despite the wheeling and dealing, officials have claimed to have ultimately decided against Pegasus use.

Yet, the adverse effects of such tools’ abuses have continued. Saud al-Qahtani, a leading advisor to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, utilized Landmark to track dissidents amid the sweeping disciplinary campaign within the kingdom. These actions only highlight the terrifying potential of such tools in the hands of malicious handlers and governments.

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