Supreme Court Denys Cert in NSO v. WhatsApp

January 9, 2023

Decision clears path for lawsuits by journalists and activists

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied cert in NSO Group Technologies Limited v. WhatsApp Inc., a case challenging NSO Groupís abuse of WhatsApp technology to deploy its Pegasus spyware. The Supreme Courtís decision today puts an end to NSO Groupís argument that it cannot be held liable because it is entitled to common-law foreign sovereign immunity.

Carrie DeCell, senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University said, ďWeíre pleased that the Supreme Court rejected NSO Groupís petition. Todayís decision clears the path for lawsuits brought by the tech companies, as well as for suits brought by journalists and human rights advocates who have been victims of spyware attacks. The use of spyware to surveil and intimidate journalists poses one of the most urgent threats to press freedom and democracy today.Ē

Late last year, the Knight Institute filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court against NSO Group on behalf of journalists and other members of the leading Central American news organization El Faro, who were the victims of spyware attacks using NSO Groupís Pegasus technology. The case was the first filed by journalists against NSO Group in a U.S. court. The lawsuit alleges that NSO Groupís actions in developing spyware and deploying it against El Faro journalists violated, among other laws, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act.

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