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Google and Others Back Facebook Lawsuit Over Surveillance Tool

Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other tech giants asked for permission to join Facebook Inc.’s legal fight against an Israeli company that the social media company accuses of installing malware on the phones of unsuspecting users.

The companies asked the federal appeals court in San Francisco on Monday to let them file a motion in support of a lawsuit that WhatsApp, Facebook’s messaging service, brought last year against NSO Group.

WhatsApp accused the spyware maker of using a since-closed vulnerability in the messaging service to install spyware on the phones of at least 1,400 users. The spyware allowed NSO to surreptitiously collect data from users’ phones, according to the suit.

Allowing companies like NSO to deploy cyber-surveillance tools across U.S. systems creates large-scale, systemic cybersecurity risk, the tech companies said in the brief at the appeals court.