Tech giants Microsoft, Google, Dell, and Cisco join legal battle against Israel's NSO
The Israeli firm's tools were "powerful, and dangerous," say the companies in an amicus brief in federal court
The brief, filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, opens up a new front in Facebook's lawsuit against NSO, which it filed last year after it was revealed that the cyber surveillance firm had exploited a bug in Facebook-owned instant messaging program WhatsApp to help surveil more than 1,400 people worldwide.
CTech has previously reported on a blog post by Microsoft President Brad Smith, who blamed Israel's NSO Group as one of the reasons the U.S. Government has been the victim of recent cyber attacks.
NSO - which did not immediately return a message seeking comment - argues that its products are used to fight crime. But human rights defenders and technologists at places such as Toronto-based Citizen Lab and London-based Amnesty International have documented cases in which NSO technology has been used to target reporters, lawyers and even nutrionists lobbying for soda taxes.Citizen Lab published a report on Sunday alleging that NSO's phone-hacking technology had been deployed to hack three dozen phones belonging to journalists, producers, anchors, and executives at Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera as well as a device beloning to a reporter at London-based Al Araby TV. NSO's spyware was also been linked to the slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Khashoggi's friend, dissident video blogger Omar Abdulaziz, has long argued that it was the Saudi government's ability to see their WhatsApp messages that led to his death. NSO has denied hacking Khashoggi, but has so far declined to comment on whether its technology was used to spy on others in his circle.