Apple has sued Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and its parents’ company. The tech giant has sought to bar the Israeli company’s software from being used on its devices. It has also asked that NSO to locate and delete if there any private data that has been collected by its app. The company has also asked NSO to disclose all the information, including profit, related to the operations. Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi said that state-sponsored spyware developed by private companies have become dangerous more than ever before. Pegasus software has been a topic of debate for quite some time. The software, which can infect both Android devices as well as iPhones, has put Israel under pressure. The software is capable of extracting messages, photos and emails from these devices.
It can also record calls and secretively turn on microphones and cameras. Governments and activists have expressed their apprehensions about the misuse of the software. Pegasus privileges of certain countries were suspended after concerns were raised by the United States and France. The US federal government adopted a tough stand against the government in November by blocking the sale of technology to NSO. The government even put the company on its Entity List. However, NSO Group said that the software it has developed was made to target terrorists and criminals.
But there are multiple reports about the software targeting several activists, politicians and journalists. More than 50,000 phone numbers of activists, lawyers, judges, politicians, teachers and others. According to an international investigation that was released in mid-July, there were at least 10 prime ministers, three presidents, and a king under the target of Pegasus. Several media outlets had also reported the same thing. However, there is no proof that being part of that list does not necessarily mean that an attack was attempted or successful. Pegasus clearly shows that the invention of technology has made us vulnerable to digital prying. Most of our personal information these days is stored on phones.
The information includes photos, text messages, and emails. The spyware developed by Israel can bypass the encryption to protect data sent over the internet. It can reveal what all is going on in our lives. But NSO Group says that the software developed by it has been only provided to military, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement organizations that have good human rights records. But the United States has taken the reports against Pegasus seriously and placed the company on a trade backlist. It said that the software has “enabled governments of foreign countries to conduct transnational repression.” US officials said that it is the practice of authoritarian governments that target dissenters, activists, and journalists.
Apple has sued the company after WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in 2019. In its court filing, the instant messaging app alleged that the Israeli company “developed malware in a bid to access messages and other communications after they were decrypted on target devices.” The NSO Group has also faced criticism from major tech giants like Microsoft, Meta Platform, Cisco Systems, and Alphabet. Talking about the lawsuit, Apple said in a blog post that it wants to hold NSO and its parent company OSY Technologies “accountable for targeting Apple users.” Apple said that in order to prevent further abuse, it is very important that the company be banned permanently. “We want to safeguard our users from any further harm. We are also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group so that it won’t be able to use any device, service or software of Apple in future,” it said. Privacy and safety are something that Apple boasts about its devices.
These are some of the major selling points for devices it makes. However, the giant is rejecting that distinction by suing the company. NSO Group is a company in Israel that surveillance software to government agencies. The software runs secretly on smartphones and the company claims that is has been developed to target criminals and terrorists that can go “dark” because of encryption technology. But Apple is saying that it doesn’t matter to it who you are and would do anything to safeguard its users from hackers. Several big companies have raised those issues as Pegasus can be installed in a device remotely without the need of clicking on any link.