Apple is suing Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and its parent company for allegedly targeting iPhone users with a hacking tool.
NSO’s Pegasus software can infect both iPhones and Android devices, allowing operators to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones and cameras.
NSO Group said its tools were made to target terrorists and criminals.
But it has allegedly also been used on activists, politicians and journalists.
NSO Group says it only supplies Pegasus to military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies from countries with good human-rights records.
However earlier this month, US officials placed the company on a trade blacklist, saying the software had “enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists”.
Apple’s move follows a lawsuit launched in 2019 by WhatsApp which is still working its way through the US court system.
In its initial court filing, WhatsApp said NSO Group “developed their malware in order to access messages and other communications after they were decrypted on target devices”.
In a blog post announcing the California lawsuit, Apple said it wanted to hold NSO Group and its parent company OSY Technologies “accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users”.
“To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices,” it said.