Amnesty International loses case against iPhone spyware firm NSO

Posted:
in General Discussion
An Israeli court has ruled against Amnesty International in its case aimed at preventing iOS spyware firm NSO from exporting its hacking tools.

NSO Group's website
NSO Group's website


NSO Group, the makers of the "Pegasus" spyware that Facebook allegedly tried to buy, is to be allowed to continue exporting its surveillance tools after winning a crucial court ruling against Amnesty International.

An Israeli court determined that Amnesty had not sufficiently proved its argument that NSO technology had been used to spy on its staff. A Tel Aviv District Court judge dismissed the suit, allowing NSO to continue its exports. The judge also backed the country's Ministry of Defense (MOD) operations regarding the safeguarding of human rights.

"Today's disgraceful ruling is a cruel blow to people put at risk around the world by NSO Group selling its products to notorious human rights abusers," said Danna Ingleton, the acting co-Director of Amnesty Tech, in a statement seen by Vice. "At a moment when NSO and the Israeli MOD should be held accountable for their practices, it is appalling that the court has failed to do so."

"NSO Group continues to profit from human rights abuses with impunity," she continued. "The ruling of the court flies in the face of the mountains of evidence of NSO Group's spyware being used to target human rights defenders from Saudi Arabia to Mexico, including the basis of this case - the targeting of one of our own Amnesty employees. We will continue to do all we can to stop NSO Group's spyware being used to commit human rights abuses."

Amnesty International has now tweeted a video detailing "why we think the court is wrong."

NSO Group sells its spyware to human rights abusers around the world. A court ruling today allows this to continue. Here's why we think the court is wrong. pic.twitter.com/nhPvd71bzr

-- Amnesty International (@amnesty)


The NSO Group, however, argued that the win demonstrates that its policies regarding who it sells its tools to are correct. "The judgement is irrefutable evidence that the regulatory framework in which we operate in is of the highest international standard," the group said in a statement to Vice.

"Combined with NSO's industry-leading governance frameworks, it underpins the fact that we are a global leader in commitment to the proper use of technology and respect for human rights," it continued.

"Advanced encryption by terrorists and criminals necessitates the kind of legal and proportionate response that NSO provides to authorised and verified government agencies," concluded the statement.

Previously, the NSO Group has demonstrated an ability to access an iPhone within minutes - although it was in controlled circumstances, and the owner had volunteered the device.

The organization was founded in Israel in 2010 and sells malware tools to governments and law enforcement agencies. In 2018, it was claimed that an NSO employee stole the "Pegasus" code and attempted to sell it.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,263member
    Before anyone tries  to say anything I'm saying is anti-semitism, please understand that I have nothing against all the people of Jewish faith around the world. I do, however, have lots to say about all the criminal activity by technology firms based in Israel and Israel in general. Israeli firms have been targeting US government installations for years and we do little to stop them. Boasting that they create malware tools for governments and law enforcement agencies is not a good sales pitch for consumers and citizens in general. Shut them all down.
    williamlondonGeorgeBMachammeroftruthviclauyycjony0argonautsvanstromStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    rob53 said:
    Before anyone tries  to say anything I'm saying is anti-semitism, please understand that I have nothing against all the people of Jewish faith around the world. I do, however, have lots to say about all the criminal activity by technology firms based in Israel and Israel in general. Israeli firms have been targeting US government installations for years and we do little to stop them. Boasting that they create malware tools for governments and law enforcement agencies is not a good sales pitch for consumers and citizens in general. Shut them all down.

    I agree.
    Condemning criminal actions is not anti-  anything -- except anti-bad-behavior.

    To put this into perspective:   If China did what Israel and the NSO have been doing right wing heads would be exploding across the U.S.

    The hypocrisy is akin a to being pro-life while supporting capital punishment.
    hammeroftruthronnjony0argonautStrangeDaysmuthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 3 of 9
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,326member
    rob53 said:
    Before anyone tries  to say anything I'm saying is anti-semitism, please understand that I have nothing against all the people of Jewish faith around the world. I do, however, have lots to say about all the criminal activity by technology firms based in Israel and Israel in general. Israeli firms have been targeting US government installations for years and we do little to stop them. Boasting that they create malware tools for governments and law enforcement agencies is not a good sales pitch for consumers and citizens in general. Shut them all down.
    It’s tough because, like China, Israel has its good guys and bad guys in tech. There are plenty of small Israeli tech companies that Apple and others have bought for their technology. The scumbags, like NSO and Cellbrite are the ones that will sell you the technology to break into Apple’s secure hardware. The reason I call them scumbags is they have no moral compass. I get trying to help law enforcement get into a suspect’s device, but I don’t agree that you give them the keys to all the devices. Especially when law enforcement hasn’t done all of their homework in collecting evidence before turning their attention to the suspect’s iphone. 

    NSO, was selling it’s technology to tyrants and dictators in the Middle East and other countries in order to find and round up dissidents and make them disappear. 

    Oferronnargonaut
  • Reply 4 of 9
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,263member
    rob53 said:
    Before anyone tries  to say anything I'm saying is anti-semitism, please understand that I have nothing against all the people of Jewish faith around the world. I do, however, have lots to say about all the criminal activity by technology firms based in Israel and Israel in general. Israeli firms have been targeting US government installations for years and we do little to stop them. Boasting that they create malware tools for governments and law enforcement agencies is not a good sales pitch for consumers and citizens in general. Shut them all down.

    I agree.
    Condemning criminal actions is not anti-  anything -- except anti-bad-behavior.

    To put this into perspective:   If China did what Israel and the NSO have been doing right wing heads would be exploding across the U.S.

    The hypocrisy is akin a to being pro-life while supporting capital punishment.
    Well, you just identified the hypocrisy of the Republican party. Their platform, and the ideals of many Catholic Republicans, if pro-life and pro capital punishment. In fact, I know of two family members who vote Republican, even voting for Trump, simply because they are anti-abortionists. Single beliefs, like pro-Israel by both Republicans and Democrats, is what is causing the most problems in the US. Let's look at everything that's going on by every political party and country before cherry picking who and what we support. Criminal activity no matter who does it is illegal and needs to be condoned not celebrated. The actions of NSO and Cellebrite along with the NSA, CIA and FBI are many times illegal and most time very close to illegal and need to be stopped.
    ronnGeorgeBMacviclauyycjony0argonautStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    rob53 said:
    rob53 said:
    Before anyone tries  to say anything I'm saying is anti-semitism, please understand that I have nothing against all the people of Jewish faith around the world. I do, however, have lots to say about all the criminal activity by technology firms based in Israel and Israel in general. Israeli firms have been targeting US government installations for years and we do little to stop them. Boasting that they create malware tools for governments and law enforcement agencies is not a good sales pitch for consumers and citizens in general. Shut them all down.

    I agree.
    Condemning criminal actions is not anti-  anything -- except anti-bad-behavior.

    To put this into perspective:   If China did what Israel and the NSO have been doing right wing heads would be exploding across the U.S.

    The hypocrisy is akin a to being pro-life while supporting capital punishment.
    Well, you just identified the hypocrisy of the Republican party. Their platform, and the ideals of many Catholic Republicans, if pro-life and pro capital punishment. In fact, I know of two family members who vote Republican, even voting for Trump, simply because they are anti-abortionists. Single beliefs, like pro-Israel by both Republicans and Democrats, is what is causing the most problems in the US. Let's look at everything that's going on by every political party and country before cherry picking who and what we support. Criminal activity no matter who does it is illegal and needs to be condoned not celebrated. The actions of NSO and Cellebrite along with the NSA, CIA and FBI are many times illegal and most time very close to illegal and need to be stopped.

    Totally agree...
    Especially about harm caused by supporting an entire platform (ANY platform be it Republican, Democrat, Authoritarian  or Democracy) simply because you feel strongly about one aspect of it -- especially if that support includes supporting unethical, illegal or traitorous behavior.

    It is why Trump said he could shoot somebody in broad daylight on 5th Avenue and not lose any votes.

    jony0argonautronn
  • Reply 6 of 9
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    Many countries have concluded journalism is equivalent to terrorism, and that activists (even nonviolent) are the enemies.

    Those governments are the customers of NSO.

    I’m sure the US government is one of NSO’s best customers... except we’ll explain away the purchases as necessary for the war on drugs and human trafficking.

    If we stay the course, we’ll be adding scientists to the “watch” list.  
    ronnGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Many countries have concluded journalism is equivalent to terrorism, and that activists (even nonviolent) are the enemies.

    Those governments are the customers of NSO.

    I’m sure the US government is one of NSO’s best customers... except we’ll explain away the purchases as necessary for the war on drugs and human trafficking.

    If we stay the course, we’ll be adding scientists to the “watch” list.  

    We already did add scientists to our enemies list.   It started with climate scientists and now epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists who contest the party's line.
    ronn
  • Reply 8 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    The NSO protects itself well.

    A couple who exposed the organization has been the target of a smear campaign conducted by a fabricated person backed by deep-fake technology:
    "Reuters was alerted to Taylor [the fabricated, non-existant 'person'] by London academic Mazen Masri, who drew international attention in late 2018 when he helped launch an Israeli lawsuit against the surveillance company NSO on behalf of alleged Mexican victims of the company’s phone hacking technology.

    In an article in U.S. Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner, Taylor had accused Masri and his wife, Palestinian rights campaigner Ryvka Barnard, of being “known terrorist sympathizers.” ...."


    ronn
  • Reply 9 of 9
    noraa1138noraa1138 Posts: 31unconfirmed, member

    As someone who is Jewish, and a strong supporter of Israel, I completely agree with Amnesty International, the overall sentiments that NSO is just an awful company, and that Israel actively supports these type of organizations.


    On the one hand, Israel, by its very nature, must have (and does have) a world-class intelligence and anti-terrorist division. As such, private companies in Israel have some great recruiting candidates (as event by NSO). In addition, as long as a company isn't doing anything illegal, the Israeli government doesn't have much say in what a company does or how it operates.


    On the other hand, it can be argued that NSO IS doing something illegal, and that Israel IS enabling them. Furthermore, the Israeli government under Netanyahu is just awful. Netanyahu is almost worse than Trump, and in some case he is worse than Trump.


    The most difficult thing when it comes to relation and sentiments about Israel is the accusation of anti-semitism. The problem arises because there have been many cases of anti-semitism veiled as anti-Israel; and thus, when an anti-Israel statement or belief is made, the immediate thought is that it is anti-semitism, since that is definitely the case at times. In addition, describing oneself as "anti-Israel" is inherently a problem. One does not describe themselves (in most cases) as "anti-US" or "anti-China," but as anti the current government or government policies.


    As a wise Rabbi of mine once said, "Israel has problems, but Israel is not the problem." In other words, Israel has major issues across the board, but Israel still has the right to exist.

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