A group of employees of NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-monitoring company, filed a lawsuit against Facebook on Tuesday, saying the social media giant unfairly deleted its personal account suing NSO last month, Reuters reported. Facebook’s messaging service, WhatsApp, last month sued NSO in a lawsuit alleging that it helped government spies steal information from 1,400 Facebook users, targeting diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.
NSO employees said their Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as previous employees and family members’ accounts, had been blocked. They petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to ask Facebook to unseal the accounts, which they claimed were sudden and had not been notified before.
Facebook said in a statement that it had disabled “relevant accounts” after attributed the “complex cyberattack” to NSO Group and its employees. The company said it was “necessary to continue these actions, including preventing other attacks” for security reasons. The company added that it had re-opened some accounts through the appeals process.
NSO employees said in a statement that Facebook had imposed “collective punishment” on its choice to close individual accounts as a result of Facebook’s legal process against the NSO. They also said their lawsuit was filed after they made repeated requests to Facebook without receiving a response.
“Closing our personal accounts is a hurtful and unjust act by Facebook,” the statement said. The idea of searching for and using personal data is very troubling to us.” The employees said they would continue to “help governments around the world prevent crime and terrorism through the technology we are developing.”
WhatsApp accuses NSO of promoting government hacking in 20 countries. The only countries identified are Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The NSO denies the allegations.
At a technology conference in Tel Aviv on Monday, NSO President Shiri Dolev defended the company, saying NSO technology makes the world safer. Dolev also said she hopes the NSO can talk openly about its role in helping law enforcement agencies catch terrorists.
“Terrorists and criminals use social platforms and apps every day…” She said, adding that the NSO would not use the technology to hack into mobile phones. “We have developed technology that is specifically sold to government intelligence agencies,” she says. “