NSO Staff Sue Facebook For Blocking Personal Accounts

Staff at Israeli surveillance firm NSO sue Facebook, alleging it has blocked the personal accounts of staff and family members

Facebook is being sued by employees at Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group.

The lawsuit, filed in the Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday according to Reuters, alleges that Facebook has unfairly blocked the private social networking accounts of NSO staff.

It comes after Facebook-owned WhatsApp had sued NSO in late October, alleging it was behind the cyberattack earlier this year that infected devices with advanced surveillance tools.

Account blocking

In May 2019, WhatsApp urged all of its 1.5 billion users to update their software to fix a vulnerability that it said was being actively exploited to implant advanced surveillance tools on users’ devices.

The Facebook-owned company discovered the vulnerability earlier in May and released a fix. The Financial Times reported in May that the bug was used to implant spyware developed by NSO, citing an unnamed surveillance software maker as its source.

But now in a fresh legal twist, NSO employees are alleging that their Facebook and Instagram accounts and also those of former workers and family members had been blocked.

They petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to order Facebook to unblock the accounts, which they claim was done abruptly and without notice.

Facebook did not immediately respond to an email from Reuters requesting comment.

In their statement, the NSO employees said Facebook had imposed a “collective punishment” by choosing to block their private accounts due to the legal process Facebook is conducting against NSO.

They also said their lawsuit came only after they made repeated requests to Facebook that went unanswered.

Surveillance specialist

NSO Group is in the business of developing surveillance tools that are intended for use by governments and law enforcement agencies.

WhatsApp has alleged in its lawsuit that NSO Group “developed their malware in order to access messages and other communications after they were decrypted on target devices”.

It alleged that NSO Group created various WhatsApp accounts and caused the malicious code to be transmitted over the WhatsApp servers in April and May.

However NSO Group has said it would fight the allegations.

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