Israeli spyware maker NSO Group, which was earlier caught in the middle of WhatsApp-Pegasus spyware controversy in India, could be in trouble. A trial that involves NSO Group is moving forward to an open court. NSO Group is accused of creating tools designed to spy on a Canadian-born Saudi dissident.
NSO Group is being sued by the man named Omar Abdulaziz. For those of you who followed the assassination of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, the name Omar Abdulaziz must be familiar to you. According to The Guardian’s report, Abdulaziz exchanged messages with Jamal Khashoggi prior to his death. The NSO Group is known for its spyware tools. The Israeli company also reportedly identifies zero-day exploits and sell them to states interested in surveilling its citizens. This is the entire basis of the trial brought by Abdulaziz against NSO Group. Abdulaziz claims that Pegasus spyware built by the NSO Group was used by Saudi authorities to intercept his communications. However, Abdulaziz is not the first to sue the NSO Group. Israeli judge Guy Hyman rejected NSO Group’s request for dismissal of the trial. The judge even allowed public hearings despite the fact that important, confidential security issues could be discussed in open court.
“The scope is very broad, especially in matters of the roots of constitutional values and fundamental rights,” said the judge. “The ruling, therefore, in my view, must be public.”
The NSO Group continues to maintain that it licenses its technologies and the company is not responsible for how its technologies are used by licensees.
“NSO’s technology is only licensed as a lawful solution, to government intelligence and law enforcement agencies for the sole purpose of preventing and investigating terror and serious crime,” said an NSO spokesperson.
Earlier, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against NSO Group for hacking into 1400 accounts using its highly sophisticated Pegasus spyware software. Facebook's lawsuit against NSO Group had said the software developed by NSO known as Pegasus was designed to be remotely installed to hijack devices running the Android, iOS, and BlackBerry operating systems.