A US judge has rejected the plea of an Israeli spyware company, which was sued by WhatsApp Inc. in 2017 for an alleged malware-hacking scheme, to transfer the legal dispute to Israel.
U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton rejected NSO Group’s argument that American data transfer restrictions would hinder the company’s ability to defend itself in federal court in Oakland, California.
WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook Inc. sued NSO in 2019, accusing it since then of using a vulnerability in the messaging service to install spyware on the phones of at least 1,400 users.
Facebook, now a unit of Meta Platforms Inc., had the support of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other tech giants earlier in the lawsuit, who described NSO’s cyber surveillance tools as “dangerous.”
Hamilton was unconvinced by NSO’s argument that it was unfair to force the company to defend itself in the United States. He ruled that the NSO had failed to identify “bona fide restrictions” that would limit its access to the evidence, and said the company had not shown how “those restrictions would be less of a hindrance if the case proceeds in Israel.”
NSO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The case is WhatsApp Inc. v. NSO Group Technologies Limited, 19-cv-07123, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).