Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other tech giants have applied for permission to join Facebook Inc. is taking legal action against an Israeli company that the social media company accuses of installing malware on the phones of unsuspecting users.
The companies asked the San Francisco federal appeals court on Monday to let them file a petition in support of a lawsuit that WhatsApp, Facebook’s messaging service, brought against NSO Group last year.
WhatsApp has accused the spyware maker of using a since-closed vulnerability in the messaging service to install spyware on the phones of at least 1,400 users. The spyware allowed NSO to surreptitiously collect data from users’ phones, according to the lawsuit.
Allowing companies like NSO to deploy cybersurveillance tools in U.S. systems creates a large-scale systemic cybersecurity risk, the tech companies said in the appeals court brief.
NSO says he cannot be sued in a US court because he was doing his job as an agent of foreign governments and therefore entitled to foreign sovereign immunity.
U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, Calif., In July rejected NSO’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
Tech companies have urged the appeals court to treat NSO like any other company doing business in the United States. In their brief, the companies described NSO’s cyber surveillance tools as “dangerous” and said they could be “exploited by malicious actors other than the original customer.” to cripple infrastructure, commit large-scale financial crimes or cause other catastrophic damage. “
Reuters reported on the filing earlier.
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