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King & Spalding can continue to defend a surveillance technology firm accused of deploying malware targeted at WhatsApp Inc. users after a federal judge blocked the Facebook subsidiary’s attempt to boot the firm from the case.

In an order Tuesday, U.S. District Chief Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the Northern District of California denied WhatsApp’s motion to disqualify King & Spalding from representing NSO Group Technologies, finding that WhatsApp did not demonstrate that the law firm still has access to confidential material, or even that the material is substantially related to the new case.

WhatsApp argued that King & Spalding violated “a bedrock requirement of attorney loyalty: the duty to avoid switching sides and opposing a client that it once represented,” according to the disqualification filing signed by Cooley’s Michael Rhodes in San Francisco. King & Spalding represented the messaging service in a sealed matter in 2016, where it had access to related, confidential information, WhatsApp contended.

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Alaina Lancaster

Alaina Lancaster, based in San Francisco, covers disruptive trends and technologies shaping the future of law. She authors the weekly legal futurist newsletter What's Next. Contact her at [email protected]. On Twitter: @a_lancaster3

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