After the discovery of NSO’s Pegasus spyware on the Saudi activist’s iPhone, the Apples proceedings were revealed in March. Citizen Lab discovered that spyware infected the iPhone with just a click. Spyware can invisiblely infect iPhones, Mac computers, and Apple Watches and unknowingly dump data to government servers.
Citizen Lab called forcible input of the zero-click infection scheme and handed the sample to Apple in September. This discovery forced Apple to issue emergency software updates for iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Mac computers.
The Pegasus sample gave Apple a forensic understanding of how Pegasus works. The company discovered that NSO engineers created over 100 fake Apple IDs to carry out the attack. In the process of creating these accounts, NSO engineers had to agree to Apple’s iCloud Terms of Service. This explicitly requires iCloud users’ involvement with Apple to comply with California law.
This clause helped Apple file a proceeding against NSO in Northern California.
This was a significant violation of our Terms of Service and your privacy, said Heather Glenier, Apple’s Senior Director of Commercial Litigation. This is our position to send a clear signal that we do not allow unauthorized use of this type of user.
After filing a lawsuit on Tuesday, Apple said it would provide free technology, threat intelligence, and engineering assistance to Citizen Lab and other organizations engaged in eradicating digital surveillance. Apple also said it would donate $ 10 million and damages to these organizations.
Digital rights experts said Apple’s proceedings threatened the survival of the NSO. Ron Dabert, director of Citizen Lab, said NSO is now poisonous. No one in their right mind would want to touch the company. But it’s not just one company. This is an industry-wide issue.
He added that the proceedings could be a step towards increased surveillance of the unregulated spyware industry.
Such a procedure is convenient, but incomplete, says Deibert. Further action by the government is needed.
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