On August 26th an article by the BBC’s North America technology reporter Dave Lee appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Who are the hackers who cracked the iPhone?“.
In that article readers find a decidedly bizarre description of the purpose of Unit 8200 of the Israeli army’s Intelligence Corps together with an unsupported assertion. [emphasis added]
“According to the Surveillance Industry Index (SII), the NSO Group was founded in 2010 and is based in Herzliya, an attractive city north of Tel Aviv that is known as being a cluster of tech start-ups. The group was likely funded by the elite 8200 Intelligence Unit, an Israeli military-funded scheme for start-ups.”
Lee does not provide any evidence to back up his odd claim that the NSO group – or indeed any other start-up – was “likely funded” by the IDF. Numerous local media reports refer to the company having recruited private investors when it was launched in 2009.
Nevertheless, Dave Lee’s unsupported claim quickly found its way into Wikipedia’s entry on NSO Group.
Wikipedia has since wisely removed that assertion from its entry but it does remain in place in the BBC News website’s article.