The Legal Battle Between Facebook and NSO Continues With New Revelations

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated July 13, 2021

The chain of revelations that begun with the lawsuit that Facebook filed against NSO back in October 2019 has just gotten a couple of new links. Facebook presented new documents in court yesterday, trying to prove that the Israeli spyware developer has been engaging in surveillance operations with the aid of private entities in the United States. More specifically, the documents claim that 720 WhatsApp user-targeting instances trace back to a single IP, which belongs to an LA data center provider named “QuadraNet Enterprises.” This clears up the “jurisdiction” fog that NSO raised about the Californian court which handles the case.

Facebook’s advocates have bashed the NSO Group’s claims about keeping their operation strictly in the context of governmental entities. So far, the NSO hasn’t produced anything to prove this claim, and Facebook’s legal team rightfully points out that, even if this is really the case, they shouldn’t enjoy any kind of immunity. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the NSO claims to have helped are officially requesting data from Facebook by producing the accompanying legal documents and following the established procedures. NSO, on the other hand, doesn’t have any right to do this, and Facebook holds them directly liable for the damage they have done to WhatsApp.

The NSO discovered a way to inject spyware on WhatsApp users' phones, even if they did not answer the infecting call. This type of attacks culminated in May 2019 and harmed the reputation of WhatsApp - a Facebook product. It was later confirmed that the undisclosed zero-day flaw compromised a total of 1,400 users, so Facebook decided to sue the NSO Group for what they did. At the beginning of this month, NSO accused Facebook of having tried to license the “Pegasus” spyware in the past, to implement it on the Onavo app. Facebook dismissed this claim as an attempt to disorient the court.

It looks like the NSO isn’t interested in spending any more money on this case and would certainly prefer to have it dismissed. However, the addition of QuadraNet in the game complicates the situation for them. The reason why Facebook is taking things as far as they can go is obviously not to receive damage compensation of any sort. The social media giant wants to keep NSO away from exploiting its products in the future, as compromising encrypted communication chat apps like WhatsApp results in the loss of the users’ trust and pushes people to look elsewhere. For Facebook, there’s nothing worse than losing users.

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