- The legal battle between Facebook and the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group is heating up, with the company accusing Facebook of lying to the court in a new filing.
- Facebook is suing NSO Group for allegedly exploiting WhatsApp in order to carry out mass surveillance.
- Facebook won a default ruling against the company last week, when NSO Group representatives didn't show up to court in San Francisco.
- NSO Group now claims that Facebook didn't properly serve it with the lawsuit in accordance with international law, and says Facebook lied in the process.
- Facebook responded to NSO Group's filing, saying that the Israeli company was properly served.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Facebook won a default ruling in its legal battle against NSO Group last week after representatives for the Israeli spyware firm didn't show up to court.
Now, NSO Group is asking the court to set aside the default, alleging in new filings that Facebook violated international laws that dictate how private companies carry out lawsuits across borders and claiming that Facebook lied to the court in the process.
The lawsuit was originally filed by Facebook, stemming from allegations that NSO Group exploited security flaws in Facebook's WhatsApp to carry out a hacking spree that targeted journalists, dissidents, human rights activists, and other opponents of NSO Group's clients.
NSO Group's alleged phone hacking software was implicated in a number of high-profile hacks in recent years, including Saudi Arabia's alleged surveillance of Jeff Bezos, and the surveillance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he was killed by Saudi agents in Istanbul.
NSO Group has disputed the lawsuit's allegations, arguing that it simply makes technology and does not aid its clients in carrying out any "operational activity."
Facebook came a step closer to victory last week when NSO Group failed to appear in court for a preliminary hearing in San Francisco. Facebook's lawyers told the judge that it gave NSO Group ample notice of the lawsuit, and the court entered a default notice in Facebook's favor.
NSO Group pushed back on that ruling in a new filing on Friday. The Israeli company claimed that it had no obligation to appear in court because Facebook didn't file the lawsuit with the proper Israeli court authorities. The NSO Group attached in its filing an email from an Israeli clerk that appeared to say Facebook did not complete the application.
"Facebook knew that NSO had no obligation to appear in court until service was complete. Facebook's underhanded tactics deceived the court into entering an improper default, and created a false narrative in the news media that unfairly described NSO Group as unresponsive to the case," an NSO Group spokesperson said in a statement.
Facebook responded to NSO Group in a filing Monday night, denying the claim that it had misled the court and arguing that NSO Group was properly informed of the lawsuit.
"There is no dispute that Defendants have been fully aware of this litigation since it began," Facebook wrote in its filing.