The NSO Group (previously) is an Israeli spyware company that sells tools to autocratic states that are used to spy on democratic opposition movements, journalists, and so on (the company's tools were used by the Saudi government to spy on Jamal Khashoggi in the runup to his kidnap and grisly murder).
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, NSO Group employees were kicked off of Facebook's platforms, receiving notes informing them that their involvement in attacks on Facebook products violated Facebook's terms of service and thus their accounts were being permanently terminated.
Now, the NSO Group is suing Facebook, arguing that that this is a form of collective punishment (it is), and that Facebook violated NSO Group employees' privacy by searching its own databases to identify their users' employers so it could target them for punishment (they did).
The NSO Group raises a pretty good point here: we don't want Facebook deciding that everyone who works for a company or organization should lose access to their data, networks and services based on their employer, nor do we want Facebook trawling through its own databases to decide who might fit an employer-based profile.
But that said: the NSO Group's entire business-model is based on systematically invading peoples' privacy — and not to kick them off of Facebook, but rather to help brutal secret police forces target them for arrest, torture, and even murder. So it's a little hard to take this seriously. The NSO Group may love privacy for themselves, but it'd be nice if they'd share.
The new lawsuit argues that Facebook violated its own terms of service by blocking the NSO employees, and it used personal information they shared with Facebook in order to identify them, in violation of an Israeli privacy law. As relief, the lawyers ask the court to make Facebook lift the ban on the accounts. The lawsuit was first reported in Israeli media.
"It appears that Facebook used the [NSO employees'] personal data…in order to identify them as NSO employees (or former employees), in service of imposing 'collective punishment' on them, in the form of blocking their personal accounts," the lawsuit reads in Hebrew.
The lawsuit argues that the personal data used to identify them as NSO employees belonged to the individuals, and not Facebook. Lawyers representing the current and former NSO employees were not immediately available to comment.
NSO Employees Take Legal Action Against Facebook for Banning Their Accounts [Emanuel Maiberg and Joseph Cox/Motherboard]