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Apple, Locked in ‘Arms Race’ With NSO Group, Sues Over Spyware

Nov. 23, 2021, 7:46 PM

Apple Inc. is accusing Israeli spyware maker NSO Group of illegally surveilling its users, forcing the tech giant into what it called “a continual arms race” to defend against evolving exploits.

“These constant recovery and prevention efforts require significant resources and impose huge costs on Apple,” according to a lawsuit Apple filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit also claims that the spyware damages Apple’s reputation for securing consumer data and keeping it private.

Apple’s allegations echo another suit from Meta Platforms Inc.‘s WhatsApp that accuses NSO of illegally targeting users of the messaging platform with surveillance software. Both suits allege violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a federal anti-hacking law.

The latest suit claims that NSO spyware is exploiting Apple products to illegally monitor government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, and academics.

A NSO spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Apple’s lawsuit.

NSO has argued that it’s immune from legal action because foreign governments use its technology to track criminals and terrorists. So far, federal courts have rejected that argument, letting WhatsApp move forward with its claims.

Despite attempts at “hiding behind their unnamed customers,” NSO is “well within the long arm of the law,” Apple’s complaint says.

In early November, the U.S. government sanctioned NSO over spyware concerns.

Apple is represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.

The case is Apple Inc. v. NSO Group Technologies Ltd., N.D. Cal., No. 5:21-cv-9078, complaint filed 11/23/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at