Apple has accused NSO Group, the Israeli surveillance company, of "gross" violations of its software, as well as federal and state laws.
SAN FRANCISCO - Apple sued the NSO group, the Israeli surveillance company, in federal court on Tuesday , another setback for the besieged company and the undueunregulated spyware streak.
The lawsuit is the second of its kind - Fac ebook sued NSO in 2019 for targeting its WhatsApp users - and another consequent decision by a private company to fight invasive spyware by governments and companies that provide their spy tools.
Apple, for the first time, is seeking to hold NSO accountable for what it says is monitoring and targeting Apple users. Apple also wants to permanently prevent NSO from using any Apple software, service or device, a move that could render the company's Pegasus spy product worthless, given that its core business is giving government customers full access. to the iPhone ou to a target 's Android smartphone.
Apple is also seeking unspecified damages for the time and cost required to deal with what the company claims to be misuse of its products by NSO. Apple has stated that it will donate the proceeds of these images to organizations that have exposed spyware.
Since NSO was founded in 2010, its Executives said they were selling spyware to governments only for lawful interception, but a series of revelations by journalists and private researchers have shown how governments have deployed NSO's Pegasus spyware against journalists, activists and dissidents.
Apple executives have described the lawsuit as a wake-up call to NSO and other spyware manufacturers. "It 's Apple that says: if you do this, if youarm our software against innocent users, researchers, dissidents, activists or journalists, Apple will not give you a quarter, "said Ivan Krstic, head of security engineering and architecture at 'Apple, in a statement. Interview Monday.
"Thousands of lives have been saved around the world thanks to the technologies of NSO Group used by its customers" an NSO representative said in a statement on Tuesday. "Pedophiles and terrorists can operate freely in tech shelters, and we are providing governments with the legal tools to combat it.
The NSO Group has dealt with a series of critical setbacks. This month the Biden administration, in a notable breach with Israel, blacklisted NSO and Candiru, another Israeli surveillance firm , claiming to have supplied spyware to foreign governmentsers who used them to target the phones of journalists, dissidents, human rights activists and others.
The ban, which means no US organization cannot work with NSO, is the strongest step a US administration has taken to bring the global spyware market to a halt.
The Israeli government approves all sales of NSO software to foreign governments and the data considers software an essential tool of foreign policy , puts pressure on states- United to lift the ban on behalf of NSO. NSO said it would fight the ban, but the executive decided to take over the NSO group after the company was blacklisted, the scompany.
A week after the federal ban, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed NSO's motion to dismiss the Facebook legal action. The Israeli firm had argued that it "could claim foreign sovereign immunity". A 3: 0 court ruling rejected NSO's argument and allowed Facebook's lawsuit to continue.
These developments helped open the way to Apple's lawsuit against NSO on Tuesday. Apple found itself in NSO's crosshairs in 2016, when researchers at Citizen Lab, a research institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and Lookout, the mobile security company of the University of Toronto. San Francisco now owned by BlackBerry, discovered that NSO Pegasus spyware was taking advantage of three security holes in Apple products to spy on dissidents, activists and journalists.
And the company is in danger of default, warned Moody 's, the rating agency. Moody 's demoted NSO two levels, eight levels below the investment grade, citing his $ 500 million in debt and serious cash flow problems.
NSO's spyware gave its government clients access to the full contents of a target's phone, allowing agents to read a target's text messages and emails, record phone calls, capture sounds and footage from their cameras and trace the person's whereabouts.
Internal ONS documents , leak at Hfrance.fr in 2016, showed that the company charged $ 650,000 to government agencies to spy on 10 users iPhone - with a setup fee of half a million dollars. Government agencies in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico were among NSO's earliest clients, according to the documents.
These revelations led to the discovery of spyware from NSO on human phones. human rights activists in the Emirates and journalists, activists and human rights lawyers in Mexico - even their teenage children living in the United States.
NSO has said it will investigate any allegations of abuse, but further revelations have shown it did not prevent these governmentsents to continue abusing NSO spyware.
Understanding Facebook papers Map 1 of 6
A struggling tech giant. Leak of internal documents by a former Facebook employee provided an intimate look on the company's secret social medicine operations and renewed calls for better regulation of the company's wide reach in the lives of its users .
How it started. In September, the Wall Street Journal published The Facebook Files, a series of reports based on documents. The series has revealed evidence that Facebook, which took on the company name of Meta on October 28, knew of Instagram, one of its products worsened body image problems in adolescents .
The whistleblower. During an interview with "60 minutes" that aired on October 3, Frances Haugen, Facebook product manager who left the company in May, revealed that she was responsible for leaking these internal documents.
Ms. Testimonial de Haugen at the Congress. On October 5, Mrs Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee , claiming that Facebook was ready to use content damaging on its site to retain users. Facebook executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, have called his accusations false.
The Facebook Papers. Ms Haugen also filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided the documents to Congress in redacted form. A Congressional staff member then provided the documents, known in while Facebook Papers , to several press organizations, including Hfrance.fr.
New revelations. Documents from Facebook articles show how Facebook knew about extremist groups on its site trying to polarize American voters ahead of the election. They therefore reveal that internal researchers have repeatedly determined how key features of Facebook toxic content amplified on the platform.
An opening for Apple's lawsuit emerged in March, after NSO 's Pegasus spyware was discovered on a Saudi activist ' s iPhone. Citizen Lab discovered that the spyware had infected the iPhone without even a click Spyware could invisibly infect iPhones, Mac computers and Apple watches, then siphon their data to government servers, without let the target know.
Citizen Lab called the no-click infection program "Force Entry " and passed a sample of itllon to Apple in September. The discovery forced Apple to release emergency software updates for its iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Mac computers.
The sample Pegasus gave Apple a forensic understanding of how Pegasus works. The company discovered that NSO engineers created more than 100 fake Apple IDs to carry out their attacks. In the process of creating these accounts, NSO engineers should have accepted Apple's iCloud terms and conditions, which expressly require that iCloud users' engagement with Apple "be governed by law. of the State of California ".
The clause helped Apple bring legal action against NSO in the Northern District of California.
"This was flagrant violation of our terms of service and the privacy of our customers," said Heather Grenier, diSenior Director of Commercial Litigation at Apple. "It is our stake on the ground, to send a clear signal that we are not going to allow this type of abuse from our users.
After filing its lawsuit on Tuesday, Apple said it will offer free technical, threat intelligence and engineering support to Citizen Lab and other organizations committed to eradicating digital surveillance. Apple also said it will donate $ 10 million and any damage done to these organizations.
Digital rights experts said the Apple's lawsuit threatened the survival of NSO. "NSO is now poison," said Ron Deibert, director of Citizen Lab. “No one in their right mind is going to want to touch this business. But it's not just one company. This is an industry wide problem. "
He added that the lawsuit could be a step towards greater oversight of the unregulated spyware industry.
" Steps like this are useful, but incomplete, "said Deibert. " We need more action from governments. "