Apple Inc has filed a lawsuit in the United States against Israeli company NSO Group alleging that it used its Pegasus spyware to break into Apple users’ devices. Mercenaries “who have used cyber surveillance technology to enable human rights abuses.
The Israeli company triggered a Portolf earlier this year after an international media survey revealed that Pegasus had been used by the security forces and authoritarian governments against journalists and militants from different countries.
“State-sponsored players like the NSO Group are spending millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technology with no real accountability. That has to change,” said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, in a statement.
Apple’s legal request arrived from weeks after an American court, established that WhatsApp can proceed with its own cause against the NSO, depositing the efforts of the Israeli private company to claim sovereign immunity because its customers are government agencies.
In early November, the Biden administration also imposed sanctions on the NSO group for what it called “transnational crackdowns.”
The Israeli company has insisted its products are designed to track down criminals and “terrorists” and governments accused of using the company’s spyware against human rights, defenders have also denied allegations of wrongdoing.
A spokesperson for NSO said the company would continue to stand up for the “truth” in a statement in response to the lawsuit.
“Pedophiles and terrorists can operate freely in technological shelters and we are providing governments with the legal tools to combat it,” the spokesperson for Al Jazeera said in an emailed statement.
The Apple’s suit is looking for unspecified financial compensation, as well as a court order to definitively support NSO from the use of Apple servers and peripherals and forcing the company to delete data previously hacked.
“NSO’s malicious activities have exploited Apple products, harmed Apple users and harmed Apple’s business and goodwill,” the complaint states.
NSO’s malicious products and services have also required Apple to spend thousands of hours investigating attacks, identifying damage, diagnosing the extent of impact and exploitation, and developing and distributing the necessary repairs and corrective measures.
Apple announced a patch that would have protected users from vulnerabilities. previously operated by NSO.
The Israeli company said its spyware could not affect users in the United States, but Apple pointed out that the mobile devices of American citizens, which “can and must cross international borders”, have been hacked.
He cited recent findings that Pegasus spyware was detected on the phones of six Palestinian human rights activists, including a US citizen.
In the same press release announcing the legal complaint, Apple said it would contribute $ 10 million in addition to possible damages resulting from the lawsuit to groups working to expose cybersurveillance activity.
Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which has helped expose some of NSO’s practices, praised Apple for its cause.
“Mercenary spyware companies like NSO Group have facilitated some of the world’s worst human rights abuses and transnational repression, while making themselves and their investors richer,” Deibert said in a statement released by Apple.