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Facebook, Whatsapp Get Federal Court Go-Ahead To Sue Israeli Surveillance Firm In Malware Exploit Case

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Facebook, Whatsapp Get Federal Court Go-Ahead To Sue Israeli Surveillance Firm In Malware Exploit Case

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), and subsidiary WhatsApp Inc., can go ahead with their lawsuit against NSO Group, filed for alleged exploitation of vulnerabilities in software, a federal court has ruled, TechCrunch reported Thursday.

What Happened

In October, the companies complained that the Israeli mobile surveillance software company exploited a weakness in the messaging app WhatsApp's audio calling feature to infect 1,400 mobile devices belonging to journalists, human rights activists, and others with malware.

NSO had moved the court to dismiss the lawsuit the social media giant filed, claiming its involvement in the fight against terrorism, other serious crimes, and its business dealings with foreign governments granted it immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA), TechCrunch noted.

The United States District Court of the Northern District of California Chief Judge, Phyllis Hamilton, ruled that the NSO Group failed to qualify under the FSIA, as it was not incorporated in the U.S.

A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch that it was “pleased with the Court’s decision,” and that the company would be “able to obtain relevant documents and other information about NSO’s practices.”

Why It Matters

The targets of NSO’s Pegasus malware, a trojan that steals information from mobile devices, were located in countries such as Bahrain, UAE, and Mexico.

The Israeli firm also stands accused of helping the Saudi government in spying against the assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to the New York Times.

Price Action

Facebook shares traded 0.43% lower at $239.89 in the after-hours session Thursday. The shares had closed 0.27% higher at $240.93 in the regular session.

 

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