TechDigits

Tech news
Monday, Jan 30, 2023

WhatsApp’s Pegasus spyware lawsuit can go ahead: US top court

WhatsApp’s Pegasus spyware lawsuit can go ahead: US top court

Israeli firm NSO Group’s spyware has been linked to state surveillance of human rights activists and dissidents.


The United States Supreme Court has allowed the WhatsApp messaging platform to pursue a lawsuit against Israel’s NSO Group, which makes the Pegasus spyware linked to state surveillance of journalists, human rights advocates and dissidents around the world.

The top court’s justices on Monday left in place lower court rulings against the Israeli company, which had argued it should be recognised as a foreign government agent and, therefore, be entitled to immunity under US law limiting lawsuits against foreign countries.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta and is among a number of tech companies and individuals pursuing legal action against the Israeli firm, has alleged that NSO Group surveilled about 1,400 people through the messaging platform.

The company’s 2019 lawsuit seeks to block the NSO Group from Meta platforms and servers and recover unspecified damages.

Meta, which owns both WhatsApp and Facebook, on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to deny what it called a “baseless” appeal.

NSO’s spyware has enabled cyberattacks targeting human rights activists, journalists and government officials,” Meta said in a statement. “We firmly believe that their operations violate US law and they must be held to account for their unlawful operations.”



The administration of President Joe Biden had previously recommended that the court turn away the appeal, with the Department of Justice arguing that “NSO plainly is not entitled to immunity here”.

The US Department of Commerce in 2021 blacklisted the Israeli firm for complicity in “transnational repression”, a move that limited NSO Group’s access to US technology.

WhatsApp has alleged that at least 100 of the targeted users connected to its lawsuit were journalists, rights activists and civil society members.

An investigation published in 2021 by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, found that the spyware had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists on a global scale.

Palestinian rights workers, Thai democracy activists, El Salvador media workers and the inner circle of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi were allegedly among those targeted by state actors using Pegasus spyware.

“Today’s decision clears the path for lawsuits brought by the tech companies as well as for suits brought by journalists and human rights advocates who have been victims of spyware attacks,” Carrie DeCell, a senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute who is representing journalists in a separate lawsuit against NSO Group, said on Monday.


For its part, the NSO Group has argued that Pegasus helps law enforcement and intelligence agencies fight crime and protect national security. It has said the technology is intended to help catch “terrorists”, paedophiles and criminals.

The firm, which does not disclose its clients, has maintained that only law enforcement agencies can purchase the product and all sales are approved by Israel’s Ministry of Defense. It has said it does not have control of how the technology is used after it is sold.

After Monday’s ruling, the Israeli company said in a statement: “We are confident that the court will determine that the use of Pegasus by its customers was legal.”

The NSO Group also is being sued by iPhone maker Apple, which has accused the firm of violating its user terms and services agreement by breaking into its products.

Apple has previously called NSO’s employees “amoral 21st century mercenaries”.
Newsletter

Related Articles

TechDigits
Close
0:00
0:00
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Yellen hints at ‘national security’ probe into Twitter purchase
Elon Musk reinstates Donald Trump's Twitter account.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama will hold back-to-back disinformation conferences
Solar + Powerwall ensures you never lose power, even if the grid goes down
This man paid for strangers' grocery and it moved them to tears
Meta introduces a new version of Mark Zuckerberg
Virtual Reality on billboards: BMW advertisement on Times Square
Apple CEO Tim Cook says coding should be taught as early as elementary school: 'It's the most important language you can learn'
Apple Executive Resigns After Viral TikTok Shows Him Making Crude Jokes
Huawei is not only better technology, but also protecting users better: Apple Warns Of Security Flaw For Iphones, Ipads And Macs
Mark Zuckerberg warns many teams will ‘shrink’ as Meta revenue drops
Elon Musk reportedly begged for forgiveness after his affair with Google co-founder Sergey Brin's wife
J.P. Morgan’s wealth management guru has some advice for recent college graduates on managing money and building wealth
Pentagon widens scope of UFO-hunting unit
Bezos' girlfriend Lauren Sanchez gives $1M to group focused on migrant kids at US-Mexico border
Hong Kong gets its first metaverse churches with avatars and virtual preachers
The ‘Dirty Quid Pro Quo’ Between Democrats and Big Tech
Elon Musk swore in March not to sell any Bitcoin, but Tesla cashed out 75% of its Bitcoin holdings amid the crypto winter just months later
Crypto winter continues at Gemini as another round of layoffs hits Winklevoss crypto exchange
Ex-CIA engineer Joshua Schulte convicted over massive data leak
EU to build new top-secret bunker
Elon Musk fathered twins with one of his executives last year
Apple launches Lockdown Mode to block spyware attacks on at-risk users
Australia floods worsen as thousands more Sydney residents evacuate
Women's own body dissatisfaction appears to influence their judgment of other women's body sizes
Hacker claims to have obtained data on 1 billion Chinese citizens
British Army's Twitter and YouTube accounts restored after hack
Google will delete location history for visits to abortion clinics after overturning of Roe v. Wade
Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Other Top Billionaires Lose $1.4 Trillion In Worst Half Ever
Philippines orders critical news site to shut down
Social media companies could be sued for addicting children to their digital-drug in California 
Airport chaos: European travel runs into pandemic cutbacks
The teen who tracks Elon Musk's jet agreed to stop monitoring Mark Cuban's flights on Twitter after the billionaire offered business advice
YouTube Shorts Claims 1.5 Billion Global Users As TikTok Rivalry Heats Up
The “Chinese (much better) Tesla”, Nio Stock, Jumps Again As Nio Eyes 'Product Supercycle'
The Crypto Bear Market Could Last Two Years, Top Investors Say
×