Spyware used ‘illegitimately’ in four EU states, say MEPs

BRUSSELS: Spyware has been used “illegitimately” to conduct surveillance in at least four EU countries — Greece, Spain, Poland and Hungary — according to a draft report by the European Parliament presented on Tuesday.
“The abuse of spyware in EU member states is a grave threat to democracy on the entire continent,” the lawmaker who led the work on the report, Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, told a news conference. She said that in a democracy putting people under surveillance should be an exception.
“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,” In ‘t Veld said.
She added that national governments should “be accountable to the citizens, be accountable to the public, you know, be accountable to the persons which have been illegitimately targeted.” The issue has taken on greater importance in the EU legislature as evidence has piled up of several countries — EU member states among them — using spyware planted on people’s mobile phones to secretly monitor their communications.
Much attention has been given to the Pegasus spyware programme, created by an Israeli company, NSO Group, and sold to governments around the world.
multinational journalistic investigation last year revealed Pegasus had been used against human rights activists, politicians, journalists and others. But other spyware programmes are also involved.
In Europe, Greece’s government has been caught out by allegations it used software called “Predator” to try to spy on the leader of the opposition.
That led to Greece’s intelligence chief and a close aide to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis being forced to resign. Greek journalists have also taken legal action after determin. —Agencies


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