Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Pegasus: US Court orders maker to hand over code to WhatsApp

Pegasus

Israel spyware company NSO Group has been ordered by a US court to hand its code for Pegasus and other spyware products to WhatsApp as part of the company’s ongoing litigation, The Guardian reported.

The decision by Judge Phyllis Hamilton is a major legal victory for WhatsApp, the Meta-owned messaging app, which has been embroiled in a lawsuit against NSO since 2019.

The legal action began after alleged that the Israeli company’s spyware had been used against 1,400 WhatsApp users over two weeks. Pegasus made global headlines after it was allegedly used by countries to spy on world leaders, activists and journalists.

NSO was blacklisted by the Biden administration in 2021 after it determined the Israeli spyware maker acted “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US”.

NSO is closely regulated by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which must review and approve the sale of all licences to foreign governments.

In reaching her decision, Hamilton considered a plea by NSO to excuse it of all its discovery obligations in the case due to “various US and Israeli restrictions”.

Ultimately, however, she sided with WhatsApp in ordering the company to produce “all relevant spyware” for one year before and after the two weeks in which WhatsApp users were allegedly attacked: from 29 April 2018 to 10 May 2020. NSO must also give WhatsApp information “concerning the full functionality of the relevant spyware”.

However, the judge said the company will not be forced at this time to divulge the names of its clients or information regarding its server architecture.

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