Risk Update

(The) Facebook Comes at King (& Spalding) — Conflicts Allegations, Privacy, Hacking, Human Rights & FBI Eyes

Facebook claims NSO Group’s lawyers have conflict of interest in WhatsApp case” —

  • “In a court filing made public this week, Facebook asked a federal judge to disqualify law firm King & Spalding from representing NSO Group because the firm previously represented Facebook-owned WhatsApp in a different, sealed case that is ‘substantially related’ to the NSO Group one. King & Spalding, an Atlanta-based firm with a range of big corporate clients, has denied there is a conflict of interest, according to the filing.”
  • “It is the latest twist in a legal tussle that began in October, when Facebook sued NSO Group, alleging that the Israeli company violated a federal anti-hacking law when its malware was used to infect some 1,400 mobile devices, including those of human rights advocates. NSO Group denies the charges.”
  • “Facebook alleged that King & Spalding’s past work gave NSO Group’s legal defense an unfair advantage. ‘Any attorney defending this suit would love to have insight into how WhatsApp’s platform and systems work,’ the court filing states. ‘And King & Spalding has that insight—because it was once WhatsApp’s counsel.'”
  • “The lawsuit— seen as a key front in rights’ groups efforts to rein in the operations of spyware firms — has gotten increasingly contentious in recent weeks, with Facebook and NSO Group trading barbs in legal filings.”

For more interesting, related details see also: “FBI Head Helped Facebook Defend Encryption He’s Now Fighting” —

  • “Christopher Wray, prior to becoming FBI director, argued on behalf of Facebook Inc in defense of encrypted communications as the company was being pressured by the U.S. Justice Department over the issue, according to a court filing and a person familiar with the case.”
  • “Only last month, Wray told a cybersecurity conference that internet companies were ‘increasingly shielding indispensable information about those threats from any form of lawful access -through warrant-proof encryption.'”
  • “Wray’s work for Facebook, which occurred when he was employed as a lawyer for law firm King & Spalding, has not been previously reported.”
  • “The FBI said Wray could not comment on the case. ‘When he was an attorney in private practice, however, the Director represented his clients’ interests and advocated on their behalf,’ the agency said in a statement.”
  • “Alan Rozenshtein, a former U.S. Department of Justice lawyer who now teaches at the University of Minnesota, agreed with that assessment. ‘I don’t think it’s anything untoward,” he said in a telephone interview. “There are plenty of attorneys who go from industry to government and argue against the very industry they were representing.'”
  • “In a statement, WhatsApp did not comment specifically on Wray’s past position on encryption but said that King & Spalding’s past work for WhatsApp poses ‘serious ethical concerns for their representation of NSO today.'”