In Israel on Thursday, a court ordered closed-door hearings in the legal bid by Amnesty International to stop the global export of NSO Group surveillance software, which Amnesty and other human rights groups say is sold to autocratic regimes around the world to spy on journalists and dissidents, and target them more efficiently for imprisonment and assassination.
We've written a lot previously about NSO Group here on Boing Boing..
In Tel Aviv District Court, a judge on Thursday banned the public and media from court sessions, citing national security concerns.
"It's outrageous we have to be gagged," Gil Naveh, an Amnesty spokesman, told reporters.
NSO has said it only sells its technology to state and law enforcement agencies "to help them fight terrorism and serious crime".
Judge Rachel Barkai initially had said she would allow Amnesty's arguments to be heard publicly but government lawyers argued it would then look as if the state was admitting to Amnesty's accusations and Barkai changed her mind.
NSO came under particular scrutiny when a Saudi dissident close to murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi filed a lawsuit alleging that NSO had helped the royal court to take over his smartphone and spy on his communications with Khashoggi. NSO has denied that its technology was used in Khashoggi's murder.
In October, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc, sued NSO in the U.S. federal court in San Francisco, accusing it of helping government spies break into the phones of about 1,400 users across four continents.
Israeli surveillance software lawsuit goes behind closed doors [reuters.com]