Today, a new European Parliament committee will meet to discuss foreign surveillance technology used against journalists, activists, government officials and other European citizens. This committee was created in March to investigate the use of Pegasus, and how it should be applied to EU law.
Diana Riba i Giner stated that “We need a legal framework in Europe for dealing with mass espionage.” “We have worked tirelessly to get to the bottom of the case and to hold those responsible accountable and foster the legislative changes necessary to prevent acts like these from happening again. Acts that jeopardize democracy and the rule of law.
NSO, an Israeli company, has developed Pegasus, a cutting-edge spyware. The spyware is sold to governments by the company NSO for fighting crime and terrorism. Researchers, newspapers and governments have discovered that the software was used against targets in EU countries. The software allows customers of the software to monitor text messages, take screenshots and download browsing history. They can even turn on the microphone or camera in the target’s phone.
Yesterday’s New Yorker article highlighted the practices and NSO and the legal battle of tech companies such as Apple and Facebook against the people who were affected by the spyware. The investigation was partly prompted by the fact that some of the spyware victims include members of the European Parliament. Many of the MEPs infected by Pegasus and other EU officials were connected to the Catalan independence movement.
These revelations are made at a time digital security and surveillance have become increasingly popular topics in Europe. Recently, the Greek government was accused of illegally monitoring journalists. Anna Julia Donath, her mother, acknowledged today that Hungary could easily monitor anyone living in the country.
This is the “Digital Decade” in Europe that the European Commission calls. It sets specific goals to ensure Europe has clean, efficient, and useful technology by 2030. The EU will need to address cybersecurity in order to make the most of the growing amount of data in the EU. The MEPs discussed today how the EU might regulate surveillance of EU citizens, and how to deal with foreign spyware that is used against EU government institutions.
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