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Tech & Science Workers at Israeli surveillance firm NSO sue Facebook for blocking private accounts

17:05  26 november  2019
17:05  26 november  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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Topline: Facebook on Tuesday sued Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group for creating software tools that were allegedly used by its clients, including Facebook did not accuse specific governments of using Pegasus to spy on WhatsApp users. But Forbes reported last year that the Saudi Arabian

WhatsApp sued Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday, accusing it of helping government spies break into the phones of roughly 1,400 users across four continents in a hacking spree whose targets included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.

The Facebook logo and binary cyber codes are seen in this illustration© Reuters/DADO RUVIC The Facebook logo and binary cyber codes are seen in this illustration

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A group of employees from Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group filed a lawsuit against Facebook Inc on Tuesday, saying the social media giant had unfairly blocked their private accounts when it sued NSO last month.

Messaging service WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, had accused NSO in its own legal action of helping government spies to break into the phones of roughly 1,400 users across four continents in a hacking spree whose targets included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.

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The social media firm is suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company, saying it is responsible for a series of highly sophisticated cyber-attacks which it claims violated American law in an “unmistakeable pattern of abuse”. WhatsApp said it believed the technology sold by NSO was used to

WhatsApp on Tuesday sued Israeli technology firm NSO Group, accusing it using the Facebook -owned messaging service to conduct Victims of hacking previously have sued NSO in Israeli courts, but a technology company has not before pursued such legal action for using its

The NSO employees said their Facebook and Instagram accounts and also those of former workers and family members had been blocked. They petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to order Facebook to unblock the accounts, which they claim was done abruptly and without notice.

Facebook did not immediately respond to an email from Reuters requesting comment.

In their statement, the NSO employees said Facebook had imposed a "collective punishment" by choosing to block their private accounts due to the legal process Facebook is conducting against NSO. They also said their lawsuit came only after they made repeated requests to Facebook that went unanswered.

"Blocking our private accounts is a hurtful and unjust move by Facebook," the statement said. "The idea that personal data was searched for and used is very disturbing to us"

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Facebook filed a lawsuit against Israeli mobile surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday NSO Group Violated WhatsApp's Terms of Service. "Defendants (attackers) created WhatsApp accounts that they used and caused to be used to send malicious code to Target Devices in April and May 2019.

Amnesty International fears its staff may be ‘surveilled via NSO Pegasus software’.

The employees said they would continue to "help governments around the world prevent crime and terrorism through the technology we are developing".

WhatsApp accused NSO of facilitating government hacking sprees in 20 countries. Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were the only countries identified.

NSO, founded in 2009, denies the allegations.

Speaking at a technology conference in Tel Aviv on Monday, its president, Shiri Dolev, defended her company, saying NSO technologies made the world safer. Dolev also said she wished NSO could talk openly about the role it plays in helping law enforcement agencies catch terrorists.

"Terrorists and criminals use the social platforms and apps we all use every day...," she said.

Dolev added that NSO does not operate the technology nor hack phones. "We develop the technology which we sell exclusively to government intelligence agencies," she said.

(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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