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NSO Group loses legal battle to stop WhatsApp’s Pegasus lawsuit in its tracks

Faced with lawsuits, investigations, and restrictions, the Pegasus maker’s troubles are compounding.

law, justice

WhatsApp's 2019 lawsuit against the NSO Group can now go ahead after a US Court dismissed the NSO Group’s immunity claims, according to a report in Reuters. The decision of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was unanimous (3-0), the report added.  The Israeli company behind the Pegasus spyware had appealed against a decision passed in July 2020 refusing to award it "conduct-based immunity". The case will return to the U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, Reuters reported. WhatsApp's suit could set a precedent for holding spyware companies, which often operate in regulatory grey zones, accountable. The global implications of the decision may pave the way for a moratorium on spyware exports.  What did the ruling say? NSO claimed it has immunity from lawsuits filed in U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) because it deals with foreign governments that use this technology to fight terrorism and other serious crimes. But the appeals court explained that the NSO Group's licensing of Pegasus and providing technical support made it liable under federal law because it takes precedence over common law, Reuters reported. Whatever NSO's government customers do with its technology and services does not render NSO an 'agency or instrumentality of a foreign state. Thus, NSO is not entitled to the protection of foreign sovereign immunity. —Circuit Judge Danielle Forrest was quoted as saying by Reuters. WhatsApp spokesman Joshua Breckman called the decision "an important step in holding NSO accountable for its attacks against…

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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