Apple is pissed off.
The iPhone maker announced Tuesday that it’s suing NSO Group, the company behind the notorious Pegasus spyware used to target journalists and human rights activists around the world. And Apple’s not mincing any words in the process.
The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California, calls the NSO Group “notorious hackers—amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse.”
Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction against NSO Group, effectively banning the Israeli company from using any Apple products or services. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said in Apple’s announcement that enough is enough.
“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability,” he explained. “That needs to change.”
NSO Group made waves in August of 2021 when a group of media outlets, under the banner of the Pegasus Project, reported on repressive governments’ efforts around the world to use the spyware maker’s tech to investigate journalists and human rights workers.
“After checking their claims, we firmly deny the false allegations made in their report,” NSO Group wrote in response at the time.
Apple is not the only tech giant to take legal action against NSO Group. In 2019, Facebook (now Meta) sued NSO Group for allegedly both developing and deploying spyware on approximately 1,400 users’ phones via Facebook-owned WhatsApp. That case is ongoing.
How to find stalkerware on your smartphone
Notably, Apple is seeking damages. In a fitting turn, Apple said that any damages it receives it intends to donate to “organizations pursuing cybersurveillance research and advocacy.”