After suing NSO Group for hacking Whatsapp, Facebook kicks NSO employees off its services

By Cory Doctorow

This week, Facebook filed suit against the NSO Group, a cyber-arms dealer that supplies some of the world's most oppressive regimes with spying tools used to attack dissidents, journalists, human rights activists, and democratic opposition figures; Facebook alleges that NSO Group was behind more than 1,400 attacks on Whatsapp users.

After filing the suit, Facebook has reportedly terminated the accounts of NSO Group employees on Instagram and possibly its other services, including Facebook itself and Whatsapp. The termination notices accuse the NSO employees of violating Facebook's terms of service, which prohibit tampering with or exploiting its services.

Though the notices sent to NSO Group employees told them the account terminations were permanent, a Facebook representative subsequently told Ars Technica that NSO employees could appeal the notices.

A message board popular in Israel indicated that the deletion was widespread. "I had just personally verified it (I have friends working there)," one person wrote. "Ninety-eight percent of the company employees were blocked."

Another person who claimed to work at NSO responded to say he or she hadn't been blocked. Another person claiming to be an NSO employee complained bitterly on LinkedIn. An Israel-based security researcher who spoke to an NSO employee said the deletions affected a much smaller percentage of the company's employees and didn't involve WhatsApp accounts.

Facebook deletes the accounts of NSO Group workers [Dan Goodin/Ars Technica]