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Apple accused NSO Group, the Israeli surveillance company, of “flagrant” violations of its software, as well as federal and state laws.
An opening for Apple’s lawsuit emerged in March, after NSO’s Pegasus spyware was discovered on the iPhone of a Saudi activist. Citizen Lab discovered that NSO’s Pegasus spyware had infected the iPhone without so much as a click. The spyware could invisibly infect iPhones, Mac computers and Apple Watches, then siphon their data back to government servers, without the target knowing about it.
Citizen Lab called the zero-click infection scheme “Forced Entry” and passed a sample of it to Apple in September. The discovery compelled Apple to issue emergency software updates for its iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Mac computers.
The sample of Pegasus gave Apple a forensic understanding of how Pegasus worked. The company found that NSO’s engineers had created more than 100 fake Apple IDs to carry out their attacks. In the process of creating those accounts, NSO’s engineers would have had to agree to Apple’s iCloud Terms and Conditions, which expressly require that iCloud users’ engagement with Apple “be governed by the laws of the state of California.”
The clause helped Apple bring its lawsuit against NSO in the Northern District of California.
Apple today filed a lawsuit against NSO Group to hold it accountable for abusive surveillance and the targeting of a small number of Apple users.
From the court Complaint: