In a major development, Breitbart reported that the Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a lawsuit involving Facebook parent company Meta.
The lawsuit pits Meta against the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber intelligence company that created a spyware program known as “Pegasus.”
Program said to have targeted heads of state along with reporters and activists
Meta contends that the Pegasus program allowed governments to spy on journalists, activists, and political figures who used its social media platform WhatsApp.
“NSO’s spyware has enabled cyberattacks targeting human rights activists, journalists and government officials,” the company was quoted as saying its brief.
“We firmly believe that their operations violate U.S. law and they must be held to account for their unlawful operations,” the filing added.
Meta’s lawsuit follows a July of 2021 Washington Post article which detailed how the spyware program was used to surveil “three presidents, 10 prime ministers and a king” along with some 50,000 other individuals.
A list of those surveiled
The presidents in question consisted of France’s Emmanuel Macron, Iraq’s Barham Salih and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Egypt’s Mostafa Madbouly, and Morocco’s Saad-Eddine El Othmani.
The prime ministers were Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr of Yemen, Saad Hariri of Lebanon, Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda, Édouard Philippe of France, Bakitzhan Sagintayev of Kazakhstan, Noureddine Bedoui of Algeria, and Charles Michel of Belgium.
What’s more, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI’s WhatsApp use was also surveilled using the Pegasus program.
According to Breitbart, Spain’s government contends that electronic devices used by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were subjected to “illicit and external” intervention via the Pegasus program as well.
NSO Group called allegations of abuse “concerning”
Breitbart noted that the NSO Group attempted to argue that it benefited from diplomatic immunity due to its work for foreign governments, an argument that the Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to reject.
During an interview with the Post, NSO chief executive Shalev Hulio said the company’s products are used to target criminals and terrorists and that it has policies in place to prevent abuse.
“Every allegation about misuse of the system is concerning me,” Hulio was quoted as telling the newspaper. “It violates the trust that we give customers.”
“I believe that we need to check every allegation. And if we check every allegation, we might find that some of it is true. And if we find that it is true, we will take strong action,” he pledged.