Israel’s Q Cyber Technologies has signed Mercury Public Affairs to a $1.2M contract for crisis communications, media outreach and government relations work regarding a federal suit filed in California that charges its technology was used to spy on hundreds of WhatsApp users.
Filed by Facebook and its WhatsApp unit, the suit alleges that Q Cyber and its NSO Group property “used WhatsApp servers, located in the United States and elsewhere, to send malware to approximately 1,400 mobile phones and devices.”
The suit filed Oct. 29 in US federal court for the Northern District of California charges the malware “was designed to infect the target devices for the purpose of conducting surveillance of specific WhatsApp users."
Q Cyber and NSO Group deny the allegations.
Mercury managing directors Nicole Flotteron, head of the global digital practice, and Ian McCaleb, a Fox News/CNN alum who was senior spokesperson for the Dept of Justice’s criminal division, handle the one-year Q Cyber Technologies pact.
NSO Group also has been linked to the Saudi Arabia campaign against dissident and former Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
Omnicom owns Mercury.