US: Spyware ruling a welcome step towards accountability for those targeted with NSO spyware

A US district court has ordered Israeli spyware firm NSO Group to disclose documents and code related to its notorious Pegasus spyware, to WhatsApp.

Responding to the news, the Head of the Security Lab at Amnesty International, Donncha Ó Cearbhaill said:

“This decision brings us a step closer towards accountability for up to 1,400 WhatsApp users targeted with Pegasus spyware in this case, as well as the countless other individuals around the world, who have continued to be targeted since this case was filed in 2019. This court order sends a clear signal to the surveillance industry that it cannot continue to enable spyware abuse with impunity.

“While the court’s decision is a positive development, it is disappointing that NSO Group will be allowed to continue keeping the identity of its clients, who are responsible for this unlawful targeting, secret.”

Donncha Ó Cearbhaill Head of the Security Lab at Amnesty International

“NSO Group says that it only sells Pegasus to authorized government customers. Our Security Lab has documented the massive scale and breadth of the use of Pegasus against human rights defenders and journalists across the world. It is vital that targets of Pegasus find out who has purchased and deployed the spyware against them so that they can seek meaningful redress.”


The order is part of an ongoing lawsuit in which WhatsApp alleges that NSO Group’s spyware was used to target 1,400 of its users.

Various legal efforts by NSO Group to deflect legal accountability in this case have been rejected. Progress towards more transparency through such legal disclosures are a long overdue avenue for those targeted with NSO Group’s spyware to get redress for the harms they have experienced.

This positive development follows similar news in recent weeks in Poland and Spain where parliamentary and judicial investigations are seeking to uncover the truth behind numerous forensically documented cases of Pegasus spyware misuse against political opponents.