abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

5 Nov 2019

Ana Zbona & Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Open Global Rights

WhatsApp sues NSO Group: is this what it takes to hold surveillance tech to account?

There’s been widespread coverage...that Whatsapp is suing NSO Group – an Israeli surveillance company – because of a cyberattack exploiting a vulnerability in Whatsapp... [The] attack...targeted at least 100 human-rights defenders...NSO has vigorously denied the allegations... One technology company suing another because of attacks on...defenders is new - but allegations that NSO Groups’ technology is being used like this are not... 

  • In 2019, [defenders] in Morocco, were allegedly targeted through...NSO Group's Pegasus software..NSO...in response promised to investigate.
  • In 2018,...NSO Group provided the Saudi government with the software that allowed it to spy on conversations of... Jamal Khashoggi before his killing...
  • In 2017,...journalists and...defenders...were targetted...by the Mexican government... The company... was...arguing that the software was meant to only be used against drug cartels...

This attack fits into a wider trend of attacks on...defenders and civic freedoms that BHRRC has been tracking...We have registered over 2000 attacks since 2015 linked to activists raising...concerns about companies from all sectors... Digital attacks are often a precursor to physical ones...[It's] positive that with Whatsapp’s lawsuit there is some legal scrutiny being brought to such egregious allegations of abuse linked to NSO Group’s products. But we cannot depend on tech companies to police the surveillance industry...Laws to insist these companies conduct the strictest due diligence and risk management before any export would be a first step. Exports without this should be outlawed and become a criminal liability for reckless companies.