WhatsApp’s Pegasus spyware lawsuit may move forward: US Supreme Court

WhatsApp’s Pegasus spyware lawsuit may move forward: US Supreme Court

The spyware from Israeli company NSO Group is linked to state surveillance of human rights activists and dissidents.

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed messaging platform WhatsApp to take action against Israeli NSO Group. The NSO Group ties Pegasus spyware to state surveillance of journalists, human rights defenders and dissidents around the world.

A Supreme Court judge on Monday said against an Israeli company that had argued it should be recognized as an agent of a foreign government and therefore entitled to immunity under U.S. laws restricting litigation against foreign countries. I have left the lower court’s decision intact.

WhatsApp, owned by Meta and one of many tech companies and individuals suing Israeli companies, claims that NSO Group monitored about 1,400 people through its messaging platform.

The company’s 2019 lawsuit seeks to block NSO Group from its metaplatform and servers and recover unspecified damages.

Meta, which owns both WhatsApp and Facebook, on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss its “baseless” appeal.

“NSO spyware enabled cyberattacks targeting human rights activists, journalists and government officials,” Meta said in a statement. “We firmly believe that their activities violate U.S. law and must be held accountable for their illegal activities.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has previously recommended that the court dismiss the appeal, with the Justice Department arguing that “the NSO is clearly not entitled to immunity here.”

In 2021, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted an Israeli company for being complicit in “cross-border repression.” This was a move to limit the NSO group’s access to US technology.

WhatsApp claims that at least 100 of the users involved in its lawsuit are journalists, rights activists and members of civil society.

According to a study published in 2021 by 17 media organizations led by Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, the spyware was linked to attempted and successful hacking of smartphones owned by journalists, government officials and human rights activists. was found to have been used for global scale.

Palestinian rights activists, Thai democracy activists, El Salvadoran media workers and close associates of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi were allegedly targeted by state actors using Pegasus spyware. there is

“Today’s decision paves the way for lawsuits brought not only by tech companies, but also by journalists and human rights defenders who have been victims of spyware attacks,” the journalist said in a separate lawsuit against NSO Group. said on Monday.

Meanwhile, NSO Group claims Pegasus is helping law enforcement and intelligence agencies fight crime and protect national security. It says the technology is intended to help catch “terrorists,” pedophiles and criminals.

The company, which does not disclose its clients, claims that only law enforcement agencies can purchase its products and that all sales are approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.The company has no control over how the technology is used after sales. said.

Following Monday’s ruling, the Israeli company said in a statement:

NSO Group is also being sued by iPhone maker Apple, which accuses the company of violating users’ terms of service and service agreements by hacking into its products.

Apple previously called NSO employees “moral 21st century mercenaries.”

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