NSO sues Calcalist for slander

NSO Group Photo: Shutterstock
NSO Group Photo: Shutterstock

The lawsuit arises from Calcalist's reporting of the use of NSO spyware by the Israel Police. NSO alleges motives "far removed from journalism".

Offensive cyber software company NSO is suing business newspaper "Calcalist and its editors Galit Hami and Yoel Esteron for slander. Through its counsel, Adv. Moshe Mazor and Adv. Roy Blecher, NSO has filed a claim for damages of NIS 1 million in the Rishon LeZion District Court on account of Calcalist's investigative reports into the use of NSO products by the Israel Police.

NSO claims that the articles published by Calcalist were not investigative reporting, but one-sided, biased, and false reports that were published in circumstances that raise a substantial suspicion that their aim was to serve interests altogether removed from the essence of professional, responsible, and impartial journalism.

The company says that it does not operate the systems in the possession of its customers and is not party to the information they contain. It says that the customer's system is located solely at the customer's site, and no "cloud architecture" controlled by NSO has ever been operated.

The statement of claim also asserts that, contrary to the false assertions that the newspaper chose to publish, NSO's systems maintain logs that save full documentation of every action carried out by the customer, and the customer is unable to change or delete the documentation.

Moreover, NSO argues that the findings of the examining committee headed by Deputy Attorney General Amit Marari published in an interim report on February 21 completely contradict the allegations in the report published in Calcalist on February 10. The examination team confirmed that the internal database of the system sold to the police was on servers installed on police premises, and that although the user could delete records on the system's user interface as a maintenance procedure, the company had the capability of extracting even data deleted in that way, from the layer of the system accessible only to the company, where the logs recording every action by the customer are found.

The thorough examination carried out, NSO claims, demonstrates that the additional attempt to calumniate the company and its workers is groundless, and represents further proof that not every journalistic investigation bearing sensational headlines about NSO is actually based on evidence.

NSO says that as far as it is concerned the main thing is to expose the public to the truth, and for that reason it has declared that any damages awarded in the case will be transferred to non-profit organizations that help Holocaust survivors and victims of sexual assault.

Among the statements published in Calcalist that have given rise to the lawsuit are that "this is a company rotten to the core, that has no right to exist in its current format," and that "NSO is a company that does not hesitate to lie, and it is impossible to believe a single word published by its spokespersons, and moreover, it produces a dangerous product, a weapon, the use of which it is incapable of supervising or restricting." The newspaper also stated: "There is no reasonable scenario for appropriate use of Pegasus [NSO's software]. The software should be shut down and wiped out, and NSO along with it."

The lawsuit states that "the report is characterized by a blatant lack of understanding, amounting to real misrepresentation, of the technical matters relevant to its subject, including the definitions of the relevant terminology."

NSO also claims that, after the release of the interim report of the Marari Committee, Calcalist falsified the findings in the report, using partial, misstated, and misleading quotations.

Due disclosure: "Calcalist", of the Yedioth Aharonoth" group, and "Globes" are competing newspapers.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 28, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

NSO Group Photo: Shutterstock
NSO Group Photo: Shutterstock
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