WhatsApp and Facebook joined by Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Dell in lawsuit against NSO Group

WhatsApp and Facebook filed a complaint last fall alleging that NSO Group has used a vulnerability in WhatsApp to send malware to about 1,400 mobile devices, including those of journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and senior government officials. NSO Group claims that since it sells digital break-in tools to police and government spy agencies, it should benefit from ‘sovereign immunity’ shielding it from lawsuits. Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Dell Technologies (through its subsidiary VMWare), and the Internet Association joined this case siding with Facebook by filing an amicus brief. In a public statement, Microsoft has announced that expanding of sovereign immunity to NSO Group ‘would further encourage the burgeoning cyber-surveillance industry to develop, sell and use tools to exploit vulnerabilities in violation of U.S. law. Private companies should remain subject to liability when they use their cyber-surveillance tools to break the law, or knowingly permit their use for such purposes, regardless of who their customers are or what they’re trying to achieve.’