San Francisco: A US court has given green signal to the WhatsApp and Facebook case against the Israeli surveillance software company NSO Group which can now proceed to trial.
The social network filed the case last October against the NSO Group, saying that its Pegasus software exploited a vulnerability in WhatsApp to send malware to about 1,400 prominent people, including journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats and senior government officials.
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision permitting us to move ahead with our claims that NSO engaged in unlawful conduct. The decision also confirms that WhatsApp will be able to obtain relevant documents and other information about NSO’s practices,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Facebook had earlier submitted detailed proof in the court about the Israeli company NSO Group and its allegedly hacking via its controversial surveillance software Pegasus.
The NSO Group argued that “its business dealings with foreign governments, which it said use its technology to fight terrorism and other serious crimes, granted it immunity from lawsuits filed in U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA)”.
The NSO Group earlier responded to Facebook’s legal brief, saying that its “products are used to stop terrorism, curb violent crime, and save lives.
“NSO Group does not operate the Pegasus software for its clients, nor can it be used against US mobile phone numbers, or against a device within the geographic bounds of the United States”.
A separate joint investigation by The Guardian and El Pais this month revealed that several politicians in Spain were among those who became targets of surveillance carried out with the help of Israeli company NSO Group’s spyware.
The joint investigation revealed that the Catalan regional parliament’s Speaker Roger Torrent was among those whose cellphones were targeted with spyware.
Researchers working with WhatsApp warned Torrent about the targeting.
A source-based report in Motherboard said that the Spanish government has been an NSO customer since 2015.