“Israel’s” NSO Group appeals to US Supreme Court for immunity in WhatsApp lawsuit
NSO stated in its filing that it should be recognized as a foreign government agent and thus entitled to sovereign immunity under US law.
NSO Group, an Israeli spyware company, has filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court in response to a high-profile lawsuit filed by the WhatsApp messaging service.
NSO stated in its case that it should be recognized as a foreign government agent and thus entitled to sovereign immunity under US law.
Furthermore, the request is an appeal of two previous federal court rulings that rejected the Israeli company's similar arguments.
In its petition, NSO stated that the Supreme Court needed to rule on the issue of sovereign foreign immunity, which has significant national security implications for governments worldwide and has been met with mixed results in lower courts.
"Many nations, including the United States, rely on private contractors to conduct or support core governmental activities," the statement read.
"If such contractors can never seek immunity ... then the United States and other countries may soon find their military and intelligence operations disrupted by lawsuits against their agents," it added.
Facebook, now known as Meta, sued NSO in 2019 for allegedly targeting 1,400 users of WhatsApp's encrypted messaging service with highly sophisticated spyware. It seeks unspecified damages and is attempting to block NSO from Facebook platforms and servers.
Several US tech behemoths, including Microsoft and Google, backed the lawsuit. Apple later filed a similar suit against the Israeli firm.
Last summer, Forbidden Stories coordinated a series of investigations that revealed how governments used Pegasus to spy on activists, journalists, and political dissidents. Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have all been accused of using spyware.
It is unknown whether the Supreme Court will hear the case, and a decision could take months. However, a decision in favor of NSO could shield it from a discovery process that could reveal its customers and technological secrets. NSO is requesting that the entire case be dismissed.
Federal courts have rejected NSO claims of foreign immunity on two separate occasions, once in the WhatsApp case and again in the Apple case.
NSO was also blacklisted by the US Commerce Department last year, limiting its access to American technology. According to US officials, the company's products are complicit in "transnational repression".
In addition to lawsuits in the United States, the company is facing legal challenges around the world, the most recent of which comes from French-Palestinian human rights activist and political prisoner Salah Hammouri over the hacking of his phone.