SAN FRANCISCO – WhatsApp sued Israeli cybersurveillance company NSO Group in federal court on Tuesday, claiming the company used the well-known intelligence service in a comprehensive spy campaign against journalists and human rights activists.
WhatsApp, meaning the lawsuit alleges that an NSO Group program used WhatsApp to spy on more than 1,400 targets in 20 countries, including 100 journalists and human rights activists.
Over the past six months, WhatsApp has been working closely with Citizen Lab
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in the northern district of California. The NSO Group did not immediately respond to the request for comment.
In his lawsuit, WhatsApp found that NSO Group tools were used to hijack their users' phones between April and May 2019. WhatsApp announced that NSO Group's tools have been used based on the country codes of the target numbers to hack the phones of people in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico with special WhatsApp messages. The company seeks a permanent ban on NSOs and calls on legislators to ban the use of cyberweapons, as sold by the NSO Group to governments around the world.
"We agree with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression on David Kaye's call for a moratorium on these attacks," WhatsApp said in a statement. "Cyber weapons such as those used in this attack must be subject to strict legal control to ensure that they are not used to violate the individual rights and freedoms that people all over the world deserve."
This is an evolving story. It is being updated.