On the heels of Facebook filing a lawsuit against Israeli company NSO Group — alleging that it was behind the massive WhatsApp hack earlier this year — privacy experts say that the move is “popping the unaccountable bubble” that commercial spyware companies have carved out for themselves.
After disclosing the lawsuit,WhatsApp said that cyber security experts at the Citizen Lab, an academic research group based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, helped them launch the investigation into the alleged hack, which so far has impacted approximately 1,400 mobile devices. Citizen Lab for its part said that during its investigation it identified over 100 cases of abusive targeting of human rights defenders and journalists in at least 20 countries across the globe, stemming from NSO Group’s spyware.
John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at Citizen Lab, led the charge on the investigation into NSO Group and the alleged WhatsApp hack. The lawsuit by WhatsApp parent company Facebook into NSO Group, he said, is a “certified big deal” and will have widespread implications for commercial spyware companies in general.