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Hillicon Valley — Apple sues Israeli spyware developer

The Hill
The Hill
 11 days ago

Today is Tuesday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Follow The Hill’s cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

U.S. tech giant Apple is suing the blacklisted Israeli spyware developer NSO Group over allegations of targeting and surveilling Apple users.

Meanwhile, Apple and Amazon were fined by an Italian antitrust watchdog over allegations of breaking European competition rules through a restrictive agreement, and Samsung is reportedly picking a central Texas location for a new chip factory.

Let’s jump into the news.

Apple vs. NSO

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Apple has filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, the Israeli spyware developer blacklisted by the Biden administration earlier this month, accusing the firm of targeting and surveilling Apple users.

The lawsuit: The suit, filed Tuesday in a California federal court, seeks to permanently prevent NSO Group from using the Silicon Valley giant’s software, services or devices.

That could seriously weaken the effectiveness of NSO Group’s spyware product, Pegasus.

“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said in a statement about the filing. “That needs to change.”

Accusations: NSO has been accused of providing the Pegasus spyware to foreign governments that have used it to target the phones of thousands of dissidents, journalists and human rights advocates.

Apple’s suit seeks unspecified damages, which the company said it hopes to donate to organizations focused on exposing spyware.

The Hill has reached out to NSO Group for comment on the suit.

Read more about the lawsuit.

APPLE, AMAZON FINED

Apple and Amazon were fined $225 million by an Italian antitrust watchdog over allegations that the tech giants violated European antitrust rules when they made a restrictive agreement that did not allow all legitimate resellers of Apple and Beats products to operate on Italy’s Amazon marketplace.

The fine announced Tuesday includes a penalty of 134.5 million euros, or $151.32 million, for Apple, and 68.7 million euros, or $77.29 million, for Amazon.

The Italian Competition Authority said an investigation found a 2018 agreement between the companies restricted access to Italy’s Amazon marketplace to selected resellers.

Amazon intends to appeal the decision, according to a company spokesperson.

“The proposed fine is disproportionate and unjustified,” Amazon said in a statement. “We reject the ICA’s suggestion that Amazon benefits by excluding sellers from our store, since our business model relies on their success.”

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COMING TO TEXAS

Samsung is set to build a new $17 billion computer chip factory in Taylor, Texas, The Wall Street Journal reported.

An official announcement could come as early as Tuesday, people familiar with the matter told the Journal, and comes as the Biden administration makes a push for expanding semiconductor production in the U.S.

Spokespeople for Samsung and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is scheduled to make an economic announcement later Tuesday, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for Samsung told the Journal that a “final decision has not yet been made regarding the location.”

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BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: 'Future of the internet' requires willingness to change here in the US

Lighter click: simpler times

Notable links from around the web:

Facebook Grants Government Of Afghanistan Limited Posting Rights (The Intercept / Sam Biddle)

The infrastructure law just gave a boost to controversial driver-monitoring AI tech companies (Protocol / Kate Kaye)

One last thing: Russian demands

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Russia’s government has demanded that 13 foreign tech companies set up offices in the country or potentially face restrictions and bans, Reuters reported.

The demand was issued Monday by Roskomnadzor, the Russian agency responsible for regulating the country's mass media, after a new Russian law took effect in July and mandated that social media platforms with more than 500,000 daily users must set up a physical presence in the country.

Companies will also be required to open accounts on Roskomnadzor's website and create an interface through which Russian users can provide feedback, Reuters reported.

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That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s technology and cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Wednesday.

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