Irish company included on US technology export blacklist

Firm added to ‘entity list’ for ‘engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States’

An Irish company has been included by authorities in the US on a blacklist prohibiting American businesses from engaging with it in certain trade activities.

The US state department said on Tuesday that the Irish company was being added to what is known as the US “entity list” for “engaging in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”.

The US state department said a company known as Intellexa Limited in Ireland as well as Intellexa S.A. in Greece, and two other firms in North Macedonia and in Hungary – Cytrox AD and Cytrox Holdings CRT – were included on the entity list.

It said this was “based on a determination that the companies engaged in trafficking in cyber exploits used to gain access to information systems, threatening the privacy and security of individuals and organisations worldwide”.


The US department of commerce said in a separate statement that “recognising the increasingly key role that surveillance technology plays in enabling campaigns of repression and other human rights abuses, the action by US authorities on Tuesday targets these entities’ ability to access commodities, software, and technology that could contribute to the development of surveillance tools that pose a risk of misuse in violations or abuses of human rights”.

The department of state said: “The proliferation of commercial spyware poses distinct and growing counter-intelligence and security risks to the United States, including to the safety and security of US government personnel and their families.”

“The misuse of these tools globally has also facilitated repression and enabled human rights abuses, including to intimidate political opponents and curb dissent, limit freedom of expression, and monitor and target activists and journalists,” the US department of state said in a statement.

It said its actions on Tuesday formed part of a wider effort to counter the risks posed by commercial spyware.

Spyware is “dual use” technology or technology that can have military and non-military use.

Last January The Irish Times reported that the Intellexa Group, which was founded by a former Israeli intelligence agent, is owned by a holding company with an address in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

The group produces a software product called Predator that can secretly take over the microphone and camera on a targeted mobile phone and turn it into a spying device.

Under EU law, exports of such spyware technologies require a licence from the government of the member state from which the products are being exported.

The Intellexa group of companies had sales of €34.3 million in 2021, up from €20.8 million the previous year, and recorded a pretax loss of €6.68 million, according to the accounts. The bulk of the group’s sales were in the Middle East (€29.5 million), though there were also sales in Europe (€2.2 million), Africa (€900,000), Asia (€1.9 million) and Latin and Central America (€206,000).

“The principal activity of the group is to provide intelligence products for law enforcement agencies, design, development and licensing of software products and applications,” according to the accounts.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent