Israeli government sues NSO Group for developing spyware in dozens of countries

This week, Israeli technology company NSO Group was sued in a California state court by the Israeli government-run agency in charge of both the country’s tech industry and military as well as the civil authority that is responsible for regulating and censoring objectionable content on mobile devices. According to The New York Times, the lawsuit claims that the company’s mobile software company has for years sold software it has downloaded onto devices used by Iran, Russia, Syria, Libya, Indonesia, and other countries to conduct surveillance on activists and journalists and detain citizens. The suit alleges that more than 50 countries have purchased the company’s software.

The Israeli government’s lawsuit follows similar actions by the company in Europe, as the AP pointed out on Tuesday, including the Dutch and Dutch authorities, which announced last month that they would be asking for information from the company regarding the sale of mobile phone surveillance software to Saudi Arabia. The Dutch justice ministry opened an investigation in 2017 to see if the company violated Dutch law by selling secret software and services to “foreign countries” and providing “information that does not belong” to the state. The company has also been accused of violating German laws on wiretapping, including wiretapping without a court order in wiretaps related to terror cases. One of the Netherlands’ most famous citizens, Julian Assange, also recently told the New York Times that he had been targeted by surveillance equipment employed by NSO Group.

The Israeli government’s lawsuit is seeking a total of $130 million in compensation, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its complaint. It includes allegations that the company used its technology to spy on unencrypted communication between South African university staff in Nairobi and New York City activists. Israel itself is no stranger to such illegal activities, either: last year, four Israeli citizens were charged in the United States with smuggling explosives, in what Israeli authorities called a sting operation.

Read the full story at the New York Times.


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