Daily Management Review

Facebook’s Lawsuit Against Israeli Hacking Company NSO Joined By Microsoft, Google, Cisco And Dell


Facebook’s Lawsuit Against Israeli Hacking Company NSO Joined By Microsoft, Google, Cisco And Dell
Facebook's legal battle against hacking company NSO was joined by tech giants including Microsoft and Google on Monday as the companies filed an amicus brief in federal court in which the companies warned that the tools of the Israeli firm were "powerful, and dangerous."
A new front in Facebook's lawsuit against NSO has been opened up by the brief filed before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The lawsuit was filed by the social media company last year after revelations that a bug in the Facebook-owned instant messaging programme, WhatsApp, had been exploited by the cyber surveillance firm in order to help in surveillance of more than 1,400 people worldwide.
It should benefit from "sovereign immunity" since its digital break-in tools are sold and used by police and spy agencies, NSO has argued. Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that generally insulates foreign governments from lawsuits. After losing out that argument in the Northern District of California in July, NSO has appealed to the Ninth Circuit seeking an overturning of the ruling.
The tech companies that have joined Facebook to argue against the NSO seeking overturning of the ruling include Microsoft, Alphabet-owned Google, Cisco, Dell-owned VMWare, and the Washington-based Internet Association. The tech companies have argued that a proliferation of hacking technology and "more foreign governments with powerful and dangerous cyber surveillance tools" would be the result of awarding sovereign immunity to NSO.
The brief argues that in turn "means dramatically more opportunities for those tools to fall into the wrong hands and be used nefariously".
While not offering any comment on the lawsuit, NSP is known to proclaim that uts products are used to fight crime.
Incidents and case in which the technology of NSO has been used to target reporters, lawyers and even nutritionists lobbying for soda taxes have been noted and documented by human rights activities and technologists at places such as Toronto-based Citizen Lab and London-based Amnesty International.
Hacking of three dozen phones owned by journalists, producers, anchors, and executives at Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera as well as a device owned by a reporter at London-based Al Araby TV was done recently using the phone-hacking technology of NSO, said a report published on Sunday by Citizen Lab.
The incident of the slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, had also been linked to NSO's spyware. Khashoggi's death was a result of the fact that the Saudi government was able to see their WhatsApp messages, the journalist’s friend, dissident video blogger Omar Abdulaziz, has for long argued.
The allegations of hacking the phone Khashoggi have been denied by NSO even though the company has so far not commented on whether its hacking technology was used to spy on others in the known circle of the former journalist.