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Spyware firm behind coronavirus tracking app involved in crypto industry

Image by Sergio Santos from Flickr

Fri, 20 Mar 2020, 00:27 am UTC

The group behind the controversial coronavirus tracking app has crypto ties.

Israeli spyware firm NSO Group Ltd has developed a new product to track the spread of COVID-19. The app analyzes huge volumes of data to map the people’s whereabouts and easily identify who they’ve come in contact with to curb the spread of the virus, Bloomberg reported.

The person familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous revealed that the software with NSO technology takes two weeks of mobile-phone tracking information from the person who tested positive with coronavirus then matches the location data collected by national mobile phone companies that pinpoint citizens who were in the patients' vicinity for over 15 minutes or those at risk of contagion.

Coindesk has learned that the founders and investors of the firm have also supported blockchain companies. Co-founders Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio have invested in bitcoin startup Simplex.

NSO Group investor Eddy Shalev has also invested in the non-custodial wallet startup Portis, exchange platform eToro and the privacy startup QEDIT. Based on Shalev’s LinkedIn account, he is also on board of the bitcoin mining company Spondoolies Tech.

“There’s a lot of what the cryptocurrency space is doing that is recreating what is already happening with traditional finance,” QEDIT CEO Jonathan Rouach said of Shalev. “He was one of the first people to recognize that banks will be interested in the same [blockchain] technology, but maybe not public consensus [mechanisms].”

Coindesk has reached out to the three investors for comments. Another source said that QEDIT is not involved with the NSO Group’s COVID-19 monitoring app.

Meanwhile, the scheduled Bitcoin Cash Meetup in Japan will still happen but members will meet virtually. BHC meetup organizer Akane Yokoo notified the group members about the virtual meetup and said that they opted for that approach to control the spread of coronavirus.

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