EU Regulator: Spyware Pegasus is a Threat to Democracy and the Rule of Law

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The European Data Protection Supervisor has issued a damning opinion on Pegasus. The institution calls for a general ban of Israeli spy software in the European Union.

 

The controversial spyware was developed by the Israeli tech company NSO. Since last year, revelations have been pouring in that foreign regimes use technology to monitor opposition members and critical journalists or activists without their knowledge.

The software gives the user access to almost all functions of a specific target’s smartphone without informing them. Even the camera and microphone can be switched on unnoticed to spy on the person in real-time.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), an institution that advises the Commission and the EU Parliament on all aspects of privacy protection, published a report on the use of Pegasus in the EU on Tuesday.

According to the EDPS, who is responsible for safeguarding the fundamental rights of EU citizens, spyware gives the user unrestricted access to personal data and therefore violates the right to privacy. Furthermore, the watchdog argues that Pegasus is only suitable for preventing specific terrorist attacks, not for broader or systematic surveillance.

Under EU law, certain fundamental freedoms such as privacy can be restricted where national security is greatly compromised, but only in extreme necessity and when the breach is commensurate with the threat.

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