US Court allows Facebook to pursue WhatsApp Hack Lawsuit against Israel NSO Group

Alka Verma

Published On: November 09, 2021 at 12:00 IST

A US Appeals Court allowed Facebook to pursue a lawsuit against Israel’s NSO Group. The Court allowed Facebook to sue NSO Group who was accused of installing a bug in the WhatsApp messaging app to install malware which allowed surveillance of 1,400 people, including journalists, and human rights activists.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in its decision also rejected NSO’s argument of being a Foreign Government agent and that’s why it was immune from being sued.

The Court stated that this immunity in US Courts that is enjoyed by Foreign Governments does not extend to the private Israeli surveillance company.

“NSO claims that it should enjoy the immunity extended to sovereigns because it provides technology used for law-enforcement purposes and law enforcement is an inherently sovereign function,” stated the Court.

“Whatever NSO’s Government customers do with its technology and services does not render NSO an ‘agency or instrumentality of a foreign State,’ as Congress has defined that term. Thus, NSO is not entitled to the protection of foreign sovereign immunity,” added the Court.

The case is all about WhatsApp accusing NSO of installing malware to its 1,400 users in 2019.

WhatsApp logged its first complaint in 2019 in which it stated that NSO targeted members of civil society which also included Journalists and Activists.

WhatsApp also accused NSO of breaching the terms of service of WhatsApp and also stated that NSO undermined the reputation, public trust and goodwill of WhatsApp with hacking activities.

However, NSO declined all these allegations and stated that its products were used to target criminals and terrorists.

But, on this Monday again NSO’s Pegasus spyware was found on the phones of six Palestinian Human Rights Activists.

Three of them were a part of Civil Society Organizations but were recently blacklisted by Israel as “Terrorist Organizations”.

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