Human rights groups have joined forces to fight the Facebook spyware maker


The Coalition of Human Rights and Press Freedom Associations has filed a summary for Facebook’s lawsuit against Israeli intelligence agency NSO Group, arguing that “a major component of the principles represented by the United States” is at risk.

Facebook Launched suit against last year NSO The group blames the reverse-engineering firm WhatsApp And using the popular chat service to send Spyware For about 1,400 devices, including lawyers, journalists, human rights activists, government officials and others. Facebook Earned WhatsApp in 2014.

The NSO Group is now seeking to overturn a federal court decision that allowed the case to continue.

On Wednesday, eight organizations, including Access Now, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, and the Internet Freedom Foundation, filed an amicus or court summons to the Federal Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Allegedly The main technology of the NSO Group – a tool Pegasus – “An artificial spyware product, and repressive regimes that use many of NSO’s customers to use Pegasus for artificial ends.”

According to NSO Group’s marketing equipment, once Pegasus is secretly placed on a mobile phone, it can collect information about the device’s location, access its camera, microphone and internal hard drive, and record emails, phone calls and text messages.

NSO Group representatives did not respond to a request for comment. The company has said in the past that its products are “used to stop terrorism, prevent violent crime and save lives.”

Earlier this year, the NSO Group argued that the court had no jurisdiction over its activities to throw out the Facebook case. The company said in its April 30 filing that there was no dispute that its Pegasus spyware was used to access 1,400 devices between April and May 2019. However, it has been argued that it has “derivative sovereign immunity” because the technology is not implemented by the company, but by the foreign governments that purchased it.

In a summary submitted Wednesday, civil society groups called on the court not to grant NSO immunity, saying doing so would undermine “the basic international legal protections for privacy, freedom of expression and association.” The groups cited examples of people being targeted by spyware, including a Catholic priest in Togo, a Rwandan human rights activist, an Indian lawyer and a Moroccan professor.

“It’s like someone openly undressing, stripping naked, and you’re powerless in front of an invisible hand and a terrible faceless force,” said Rev. Magdalen, who promotes constitutional and electoral reform in Togo. Summary filed by Pierre Marie-Chanel Afognon Advocacy Groups.

Separately, including technology giants Microsoft, Google, And Cisco Facebook is also being supported in this case. In an Amicus summary filed Monday, the NSO Group argued that giving immunity would “further encourage the emerging cyber surveillance industry to develop, sell and use tools to plunder vulnerability in violation of U.S. law.” The companies said they were concerned that security vulnerabilities on which NSO Group’s spyware tools and devices could be compromised could eventually be acquired by “malicious actors rather than the initial customer” who could use the technology to “disable” infrastructure, commit large-scale financial crimes or cause other catastrophic damage. ”

Case WhatsApp Inc. V. NSO Group, 19-CV-07123, US District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

© 2020 Bloomberg LP

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