In what could be a major twist in WhatsApp spyware controversy, employees at NSO Group -- an Israeli surveillance software company behind Pegasus spyware -- have filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly preventing them and their family members from accessing Facebook and Instagram. NSO Group employees filed a lawsuit against Facebook, saying Facebook had unfairly blocked their private accounts when it sued NSO last month.
Employees at NSO Group said their Facebook and Instagram accounts and also those of former workers and family members had been blocked. NSO Group employees have filed a petition in the Tel Aviv District Court to order Facebook to unblock the accounts. NSO employees further claim Facebook took action abruptly and without any prior notice.
Social media giant Facebook is yet to provide its official comment on the lawsuit filed by employees at NSO Group. 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. NSO employees claim they filed a lawsuit against Facebook only after they made repeated requests to Facebook that went unanswered.
"Blocking our private accounts is a hurtful and unjust move by Facebook," the statement said. "The idea that personal data was searched for and used is very disturbing to us" Furthermore, NSO Group employees said they would continue to "help governments around the world prevent crime and terrorism through the technology we are developing".
In its lawsuit last month, Facebook argued NSO Group infringed upon laws including the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act with a crafty exploit that took advantage of a flaw in WhatsApp, allowing a smartphone to be penetrated through missed calls alone.
Last month, 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 using the Android, iOS, and BlackBerry operating systems.
Facebook had complained that the attackers "reverse-engineered the WhatsApp app and developed a programme to enable them to emulate legitimate WhatsApp network traffic in order to transmit malicious code" to take over the devices.
(With Reuters inputs)