Court Filing Reveals Facebook Wanted to Buy Spyware Technology to Monitor Web Traffic of Users

Facebook has had a rough run in the recent past. The social media platform was embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and also took flak for other security issues. A new report by Motherboard reveals that Facebook attempted to buy a tool in order to spy on iPhone and iPad.

Facebook is currently fighting a legal battle with NSO. It has accused the hacking firm of using a vulnerability in WhatsApp to help government agencies. For the uninitiated, NSO is the company behind Pegasus, spyware that extracts data from phones and is employed by law enforcement agencies.

According to a declaration from NSO CEO Shalev Hulio, two Facebook representatives approached NSO in 2017. They wanted to buy parts of Pegasus technology. As per the court filings, Facebook wanted NSO’s technology in order to implement it on Onavo Protect VPN. In other words, Facebook apparently wanted to offer spyware disguised as a VPN.

Thats not all, Facebook representatives showed a keen interest in buying technology that would help them monitor user traffic. The company allegedly didn’t show any interest in tools that could remotely break into phones.

The Facebook representatives stated that Facebook was concerned that its method for gathering user data through Onavo Protect was less effective on Apple devices than on Android devices. The Facebook representatives also stated that Facebook wanted to use purported capabilities of Pegasus to monitor users on Apple devices and was willing to pay for the ability to monitor Onavo Protect users.

Facebook representatives also went ahead and suggested a monthly fee for every Onavo Protect user. NSO claims that it only sells the solution to law enforcement agencies. The company told Facebook that it is a private entity and thus it declined the sale. Interestingly, Apple asked Facebook to remove the Onavo VPN from the App Store in 2018 and accused the app of collecting user data.

[via Motherboard]