Creators of WhatsApp attack software face lawsuit from Amnesty International

good bad uncertain whatsapps privacy future whatsapp facebook 2

This week WhatsApp users were on high alert after an attack was launched which could install spyware with just a missed call. The vulnerability was swiftly patched but it’s not yet clear how many people were affected by the attack.

Now the Israeli firm linked to that attack is under further scrutiny, as they are facing a lawsuit from human rights NGO Amnesty International. The lawsuit is being filed in Israel and alleges that software created by NSO Group, a cyber intelligence technology firm, has been used to surveil Amnesty staff and other human rights defenders.

The NSO Group software in question, called Pegasus, can be used to take control of a targeted mobile phone, to copy its data, and even to turn on the microphone to turn the phone into a listening device. Many of NSO Group’s customers are governments which say they want the software to surveil terrorists and to combat serious crime. But this week’s WhatsApp attack shows that the software has been let loose on ordinary members of the public as well.

The affidavit from Amnesty submitted to the court claims that NGO Group’s software is being specifically used against human rights defenders, including attempted attacks on staff at Amnesty. It alleges that there are an “abundance of reports pointing to governments’ deployment of the Pegasus spyware platform to surveil human rights defenders” and that NSO Group has failed in its duty to undertake “adequate due diligence and corrective measures or other steps to prevent such foreseeable misuses of its products.”

The lawsuit called for the NSO Group’s license to export software to be revoked, not because the company itself is taking part in surveillance, but because it has not taken sufficient care to ensure its software is not being used in an abusive way. “NSO Group has a responsibility to respect human rights,” the affidavit states.By failing to investigate — or turning a blind eye to — evidence of human rights violations committed using its products, and continuing to sell its products to regimes known to repress human rights defenders, NSO Group is not fulfilling its responsibility.”

This is not the first time that NSO Group has been accused of surveilling dissidents. An investigation by the New York Times found that the Pegasus software played a role in the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


Facebook’s content moderators break their silence on terrifying work conditions

Content moderators for Facebook are overworked and overstressed to the point of unhealthy results. Last year, a moderator collapsed at his desk while on the clock and died of a heart attack. 
Emerging Tech

This humanlike synthesized speech could be the future of audiobooks

You probably wouldn't want Siri or Alexa reading you an entire audiobook. A new startup called DeepZen has developed a text-to-speech A.I. that sounds impressively human. Check it out.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.

The PlayStation Network is back up. Here’s the latest on the PSN outage

Sony's PlayStation Network is back online after going down for several hours on Thursday afternoon, annoying legions of gamers right in the middle of E3. Here's the latest on the outage

Amazon Prime Day 2019 will likely be on July 15, according to leaked email

It looks like we now have an idea of when Amazon Prime Day 2019 will be, thanks to a leaked email that was sent out to promote a vacuum cleaner deal for Prime Day. According to the email, the massive shopping event will take place on July…
Social Media

Here's how to unblock someone on Facebook when you've had a change of heart

Maybe you were a little too hasty blocking that one person on Facebook ... or maybe you just want to do a little spying to see what they're up to. Either way, you can fix the situation easily. Here's how to unblock someone on Facebook.

Dropbox’s all-new desktop app wants to be your one and only workspace

Dropbox has unveiled its most significant update yet as it continues to move away from its original core service as a place to store files in the cloud, toward a virtual workspace solution that offers all services in-app.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've hand-picked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.
Social Media

Here's how to link your Instagram, Facebook accounts for social syncing

Instagram and Facebook go hand in hand. Here's how you can make the most of the superior integration offered by the two social media behemoths, which should help your pics gain more exposure in the long run.

For $5,000, Airbnb will take you around the world in 80 days. Airfare included

Airbnb's new Adventures allow travelers can book a mix of accommodations, food, and experiences in what Airbnb calls "bucket list" worthy trips, including a round-the-world trip for just $5,000
Home Theater

Netflix can drain your data in a hurry. Here's how to turn it down a notch

Ever wondered how much data you need to stream a show (or movie) on Netflix? You aren't alone. The answer could be anywhere from 1GB per hour to 7GB per hour, but there's more to it than that. Here's how to control your Netflix data.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

May may be coming to an end, but the bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling…
Smart Home

Walmart Grocery challenges Amazon with a new $98-a-year delivery option

The grocery delivery wars are hotting up. Walmart's latest effort is a $98-a-year subscription fee that offers free delivery on orders over $30. The service, called Delivery Unlimited, can be tried free for 15 days.

American Airlines expands its fast in-flight Wi-Fi, but it will still cost you

American Airlines has completed the installation of satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi for the whole of its mainline narrowbody fleet comprising more than 700 planes, mainly on its domestic routes. But the service still costs.