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20 Jul 2020

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

USA: Judge rules Whatsapp lawsuit against NSO Group for alleged hacking of users' accounts can proceed

"US judge: WhatsApp lawsuit against Israeli spyware firm NSO can proceed", 17 July 2020.

...NSO Group was sued by WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, last year, after the popular messaging app accused the company of sending malware to 1,400 of its users over a two-week period and targeting their mobile phones.

In a ruling that the case could proceed in a US district court in California, Judge Phyllis Hamilton said she had not been entirely persuaded by NSO Group’s argument that it had no role in the targeting of WhatsApp’s users. Instead, Judge Hamilton said it appeared that NSO Group “retained some role” in the targeting of individuals, “even if it was at the direction of their customers”. The case will now proceed to discovery, in which both sides can request documents and records...“The decision also confirms that WhatsApp will be able to obtain relevant documents and other information about NSO’s practices,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said...

NSO Group has said it only sells spyware to government clients and law enforcement agencies to track terrorists and criminals. It has argued that critics of the company’s practices, including privacy advocates, have ignored a grave problem facing law enforcement agencies around the world: the proliferation of encrypted communications applications like WhatsApp, which it argues have made it easier for terrorists and other criminals to evade detection...The decision to allow the US lawsuit to proceed could pose a challenge to NSO Group’s government clients who have previously denied any association with the company, in case the judge forces the company to reveal its client list...

Part of the following timelines

WhatsApp sues Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO Group, accusing it of hacking the phones of human rights activists & journalists

NSO Group lawsuit (re hacking WhatsApp users)