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Israeli court orders Facebook to unblock account of NSO Group employee

An Israeli woman uses her iPhone in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO group, on 28 August 2016, in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]
An Israeli woman uses her iPhone in front of the building housing the Israeli NSO group, on 28 August 2016, in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]

A Tel Aviv court ordered Facebook Inc to unblock the private account of a worker at Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, and similar rulings are expected for other employees in the coming days, an NSO spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

A group of NSO employees filed suit against Facebook in November, saying the social media giant had unfairly blocked their private accounts when it sued NSO in October.

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp accused the Israeli firm of helping government spies break into the phones of about 1,400 users in a hacking spree targeting diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials across the globe.

The NSO employees said their Facebook and Instagram accounts, and also those of former workers and family members, had been blocked.

Ruling on their complaint, Tel Aviv District Court ordered the account of one employee to be restored by Wednesday afternoon.

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“We are certain that following the court’s unequivocal statements, Facebook will reverse the action it took against other employees,” the NSO spokeswoman said.

Facebook officials could not immediately comment.

The company said in November it had disabled “relevant accounts” after attributing a “sophisticated cyber attack” to the NSO Group and its employees, saying the measure was necessary for security reasons.

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