PanamaTimes

Monday, Feb 26, 2024

WhatsApp’s Pegasus spyware lawsuit can go ahead: US top court

WhatsApp’s Pegasus spyware lawsuit can go ahead: US top court

Israeli firm NSO Group’s spyware has been linked to state surveillance of human rights activists and dissidents.


The United States Supreme Court has allowed the WhatsApp messaging platform to pursue a lawsuit against Israel’s NSO Group, which makes the Pegasus spyware linked to state surveillance of journalists, human rights advocates and dissidents around the world.

The top court’s justices on Monday left in place lower court rulings against the Israeli company, which had argued it should be recognised as a foreign government agent and, therefore, be entitled to immunity under US law limiting lawsuits against foreign countries.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta and is among a number of tech companies and individuals pursuing legal action against the Israeli firm, has alleged that NSO Group surveilled about 1,400 people through the messaging platform.

The company’s 2019 lawsuit seeks to block the NSO Group from Meta platforms and servers and recover unspecified damages.

Meta, which owns both WhatsApp and Facebook, on Monday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to deny what it called a “baseless” appeal.

NSO’s spyware has enabled cyberattacks targeting human rights activists, journalists and government officials,” Meta said in a statement. “We firmly believe that their operations violate US law and they must be held to account for their unlawful operations.”



The administration of President Joe Biden had previously recommended that the court turn away the appeal, with the Department of Justice arguing that “NSO plainly is not entitled to immunity here”.

The US Department of Commerce in 2021 blacklisted the Israeli firm for complicity in “transnational repression”, a move that limited NSO Group’s access to US technology.

WhatsApp has alleged that at least 100 of the targeted users connected to its lawsuit were journalists, rights activists and civil society members.

An investigation published in 2021 by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, found that the spyware had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists on a global scale.

Palestinian rights workers, Thai democracy activists, El Salvador media workers and the inner circle of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi were allegedly among those targeted by state actors using Pegasus spyware.

“Today’s decision clears the path for lawsuits brought by the tech companies as well as for suits brought by journalists and human rights advocates who have been victims of spyware attacks,” Carrie DeCell, a senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute who is representing journalists in a separate lawsuit against NSO Group, said on Monday.


For its part, the NSO Group has argued that Pegasus helps law enforcement and intelligence agencies fight crime and protect national security. It has said the technology is intended to help catch “terrorists”, paedophiles and criminals.

The firm, which does not disclose its clients, has maintained that only law enforcement agencies can purchase the product and all sales are approved by Israel’s Ministry of Defense. It has said it does not have control of how the technology is used after it is sold.

After Monday’s ruling, the Israeli company said in a statement: “We are confident that the court will determine that the use of Pegasus by its customers was legal.”

The NSO Group also is being sued by iPhone maker Apple, which has accused the firm of violating its user terms and services agreement by breaking into its products.

Apple has previously called NSO’s employees “amoral 21st century mercenaries”.
Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×