After the Pegasus scandal, EU goes up against Predator in draft report
Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld still defends the usage of spyware, although she says it must be an exception and not the norm.
A draft report presented to the European Parliament on Tuesday indicated that spyware has been "illegitimately" used for surveillance purposes in at least four EU nations, including Greece, Spain, Poland, and Hungary.
Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld, the leading lawmaker handling the report, said at a press briefing, "The abuse of spyware in EU member states is a grave threat to democracy on the entire continent."
The MEP asserted that placing people under surveillance ought to be an exception in a democracy further noting that "it should not be possible to abuse it for political purposes ... or for the purposes of hanging on to power, manipulating elections, or for the purposes of covering up corruption."
“The abuse of spyware in EU MS is a grave threat to democracy on the entire continent & just at the time when we need democracy more than ever” @SophieintVeld, rapporteur on @EP_PegaInquiry draft report at today's press conference— European Parliament Audiovisual Service (@europarlAV) November 8, 2022
🎥Watch & download: https://t.co/zuYOgCQLo6 pic.twitter.com/EC4fIzpJnu
National governments, said In 't Veld, should "be accountable to the citizens, be accountable to the public, you know, be accountable to the persons which have been illegitimately targeted."
The topic has gained more attention in the EU legislature as proof of various nations, particularly EU member states, employing spyware installed on people's mobile phones to covertly monitor their conversations has accumulated.
Spain's spy director was fired in May for his participation in a scandal involving the hacking of lawmakers' and Catalan separatist leaders' cell phones.
In past months, the Israeli NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, which was marketed to governments all around the world, has triggered a ripple effect of discussions regarding the risks of such tools.
More recently, Greece's government has come under fire in Europe over claims that it tried to spy on the head of the opposition using software named Predator.
As a result, the close advisor to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the country's head of intelligence were obliged to quit.
It is also worth noting that following their discovery that malware had also targeted them, Greek journalists have also filed a lawsuit.
In 't Veld stated that "spyware is an integral element of a system ... designed to control and even oppress the citizens" in Poland and Hungary, whose administrations have been in conflict with Brussels' concept of the rule of law.
The Dutch MEP also claimed that Cyprus was "the center for exports of malware," noting that there was a need for a closer examination given the evidence that spyware was being deployed there.
The report put forward also proposed a moratorium on the purchase, transfer, and use of spyware in the EU, which would only be lifted on an individual basis in cases where well-established national security justifications exist.
The approval of the parliamentary report on spyware will be presented to a vote after it is finished, which is not anticipated to happen before March 2023.