EU countries in the spotlight for Pegasus
EU countries in the spotlight for Pegasus

The European Parliament has voted to set up a new commission of inquiry to investigate allegations that EU member states obtained and used Pegasus spyware.

Lawmakers voted to set up the commission that will investigate the use of Pegasus and other spyware for surveillance in the 27-nation European Union. Commissions of Inquiry enable lawmakers to investigate potential violations of EU law.

The European Parliament said in a statement that the committee is studying current national surveillance laws and whether the Pegasus spyware is being used for political purposes, such as targeting journalists, politicians and lawyers.

Pegasus is a spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group that allows almost complete access to the data on the target device.

While NSO Group is one of the best known and most prolific makers of spyware in the broader field of surveillance. The company enables governments and law enforcement agencies to gain access to device data by exploiting security holes and vulnerabilities in device software.

However, researchers have consistently found that members of civil society - journalists, activists and human rights defenders - have been targeted by governments with Pegasus spyware despite assurances that only dangerous criminals and terrorists will be targeted.

The commission's formation comes less than a month after European privacy officials called for a blanket ban on Pegasus and other spyware amid fears of unprecedented spyware hacks.

European regulators cited reports of spyware being used in Hungary and Poland, two EU member states.

New Spyware Advice From Pegasus

In January, Citizen Lab researchers found evidence that critics of Poland's ruling party are being attacked with spyware. Among them is the opposition MP Krzysztof Brigsa.

Text messages stolen from Brygsa's phone were later leaked, tampered with and broadcast on state-controlled television. Then he lost by a large margin. Since then, Bruges has accused the Polish government of interfering in the elections.

Researchers have also reported cases of Pegasus infection in France, Germany and Spain. Under European law, the European Parliament's Pegasus Committee has a one-year mandate. However, it can be extended for up to six months.

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