Justices turn away Israeli spyware maker in WhatsApp suit

Washington (AP) — Supreme Court On Monday, it rejected an Israeli spyware maker’s bid to derail a high-profile lawsuit filed by the WhatsApp messaging service.

The judge affirmed the lower court’s ruling against the Israeli company NSO Group. WhatsApp claims NSO is highly sophisticated spyware that targeted approximately 1,400 users of its encrypted messaging service.

WhatsApp’s Parent Company Facebook, Now Called Meta Platforms Inc., seeks to block NSO from the Facebook platform and servers and to recover unspecified damages.

NSO argued that it should be recognized as an agent of a foreign government and, therefore, entitled to immunity under US law restricting litigation against foreign countries. The request appeals to two previous federal court rulings that he dismissed similar claims by Israeli companies.

The Biden administration recommended that the court dismiss the appeal. The Department of Justice wrote, “Clearly, the NSO is not entitled to immunity here.”

NSO’s flagship product, Pegasus, allows operators to covertly break into a target’s cell phone and gain access to messages and contacts, camera and microphone, and location history. Only government law enforcement agencies can purchase the products, and all sales are approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, he said. Doesn’t identify the client.

WhatsApp said at least 100 of the users involved in the lawsuit were journalists, rights activists and members of civil society. Critics say NSO’s clients include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Poland, which have abused the system to snoop on critics and stifle dissent. .

NSO said it has safeguards in place to prevent abuse, but also said it has no control over how customers use its products.

The WhatsApp case is one in a series of legal battles plaguing the NSO. In a separate lawsuit, Apple says it aims to prevent NSOs from infiltrating its products. The company claims that Pegasus has inspired a handful of iPhone users around the world, calling NSO employees “his outrageous 21st-century mercenaries.”

NSO has also been blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce, limiting its access to US technology. US officials said the company’s products were complicit in a “cross-border crackdown”.

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