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9 Jan 2023

Lawrence Hurley, NBC News

USA: Supreme Court allows WhatsApp lawsuit against NSO Group over Pegasus spyware to proceed


"Supreme Court allows WhatsApp lawsuit over 'Pegasus' spyware to move forward", 9 Jan 2023

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Meta to pursue a lawsuit alleging that an Israeli company unlawfully accessed WhatsApp servers when installing spyware on users’ devices.

The justices turned away NSO Group Technologies' appeal arguing that it was immune from the lawsuit because it was acting on behalf of unidentified foreign governments. Meta owns the WhatsApp messaging platform as well as the social media sites Facebook and Instagram. The case will now move forward in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit, filed in October 2019, alleges that NSO violated various laws, including the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, when it installed the “Pegasus” spyware. Meta claims that NSO unlawfully accessed WhatsApp servers earlier in 2019, enabling it to conduct surveillance of 1,400 people, including journalists and human rights activists.

NSO said in court filings that it works on behalf of foreign governments, which it did not identify, and that the Pegasus software is a tool used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

“Some WhatsApp users are violent criminals and terrorists who exploit the software’s encryption to avoid detection,” the company’s lawyers wrote...

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar... noted [that] no foreign government has told the State Department that NSO was acting on its behalf.