Wed 15 Mar 2023 8:57 pm - Jerusalem Time

US court allows “WhatsApp” to sue an Israeli spy company

Washington - "Jerusalem" dot com - Saeed Erekat - The US Supreme Court decided this week that the popular messaging platform WhatsApp (owned by the parent company of the social networking platform Facebook) has the right to proceed with the lawsuit against the Israeli spyware company NSO. NSO Group Technologies The Israeli NSO Group's request for immunity has already been rejected by lower courts before reaching the US Supreme Court.

Meta (Facebook's parent company) filed a lawsuit against NSO Group in October 2019 over the Behassis hacking and spyware program. In its lawsuit, Meta alleges that Pegasys allowed users to illegally access WhatsApp servers and monitor and spy on about 1,400 people.

In 2021, a press consortium investigated the leak of Israeli NSO group data (initially obtained by Paris-based Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International) and discovered that Pegasus had been used by what At least twenty authoritarian governments spy on activists, journalists, and lawyers.

"Project Pegasus exposes how NSO spyware is the weapon of choice for repressive governments seeking to silence journalists, attack activists and crush dissent, putting countless lives at risk," Amnesty International's Secretary General Agnes Callamard said at the time.

“These findings refute any claims by NSO that such attacks are rare and attributable to rogue use of its technology,” it added. “While the company claims its spyware is only used in legitimate criminal and terrorist investigations, it is clear that its technology facilitates systemic abuse.” They are trying to paint an image that they are legitimate, and in fact they are profiting from human rights violations on a massive scale.”

NSO Group has argued in court filings that it should be classified as a foreign government agent, which would give it immunity from US laws. Apple also sued the company over the hacking software.

relationship with the Israeli government

According to the lawsuit, the Israeli government has well-documented connections to the company. It is she who sold NSO the export license that enabled it to cooperate with foreign governments, despite its pledge to refrain from selling technology to countries that commit human rights abuses. All sales of Pegasus have been approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. And in 2020, then-Israel Defense Minister Naftali Bennett celebrated the fact that NSO had worked with the Israeli military to track coronavirus exposure in the country.

And last year, Democracy in the Arab World Now-Don published an investigation documenting how four American lobbyists (Brian Finch, David Tamasi, Steve Rabinowitz, and Timothy Dickinson) violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by misrepresenting the Israeli government's relationship with : NSO NSO.

"Despite the well-documented human rights abuses committed with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, the four lobbyists and their companies chose to contribute to the company's abuses by misleading government officials about its reputation," a statement from the Dawn Group said. deservedly disgraceful,” said a statement from Don DAWN Advocacy Director Adam Shapiro, who said, “Our investigation shows that the four lobbyists and NSO Group mislead the US Congress, the Biden administration, and the American public by failing to record the Israeli government’s control of the company on forms Registration of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Biden administration sanctions

And in November 2021, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted NSO Group, which prevents the company from acquiring US technology. The ministry said NSO and another Israeli company called Candiru acted "contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States."

The Israeli government has put pressure on the Biden administration to lift these sanctions, but it has not succeeded. The administration had called on the US Supreme Court to reject the appeal. The Justice Department told the court last June that "NSO clearly has no right of immunity here".

The US Supreme Court says WhatsApp can pursue its lawsuit against Israeli spyware company NSO Group Technologies over its Pegasus hacking and spying technology.


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US court allows “WhatsApp” to sue an Israeli spy company