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A motion by Israeli mobile surveillance software company NSO Group to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by WhatsApp and parent company Facebook last October was denied.Phyllis Hamilton, chief judge of the United Stated District Court of the Northern District of California, denied the bulk of NSO Group’s arguments to dismiss and ruled that the suit could proceed.One of the main points of NSO Group’s argument was that its business dealings with foreign governments granted it immunity from lawsuits filed in U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, but Hamilton rejected this notion because the company was not formed or incorporated in the U.S.WhatsApp identified and corrected a vulnerability in its voice-over-internet-protocol calling feature last May, and Financial Times reported at the time that the spyware used in the attack was Pegasus, from NSO Group, which is licensed to governments for the purpose of gaining access to people’s devices during investigations.NSO Group said at the time, “The company does not operate the system and, after a rigorous licensing and vetting process, intelligence and law enforcement determine how to use the technology to support their public safety missions. We investigate any credible allegations of misuse and if necessary, we take action, including shutting down the system.”When the lawsuit was filed last October, WhatsApp global head Will Cathcart wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post, “As we gathered the information that we lay out in our complaint, we learned that the attackers used servers and internet-hosting services that were previously associated with NSO. In addition, as our complaint notes, we have tied certain WhatsApp accounts used during the attacks back to NSO. While their attack was highly sophisticated, their attempts to cover their tracks were not entirely successful.”



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