Liberals in the EU parliament are calling for an investigation into spyware abuse


The third largest group in the European Parliament has called for the establishment of a committee to investigate abuses by European Union governments with powerful spyware produced by the NSO Group in Israel.

WARSAW, Poland – The third largest group in the European Parliament on Wednesday called for the establishment of a committee to investigate abuses by EU governments with powerful spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Group.

Renew Europe, a liberal political group, made its call after reports that the NSO group’s Pegasus software had been used to hack the smartphones of opposition politicians, lawyers, journalists and critics. right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland.

“We need a full investigation into the Pegasus spyware scandal. European democracy is undermining and the EU should act accordingly,” said Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch MEP and co-founder of the European Parliament. calls for research. “We can’t let that happen; our democracy is at stake.”

In ‘t Veld said the European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-member union, should follow the example of the US government and “quickly blacklist the parent company of Pegasus NSO”.

The Biden administration set new export limits in November on Israel’s NSO group, saying its tools have been used to “carry out transnational repression.”

Renew said in a statement that he hoped other groups would support his call, noting that an investigation would be the first action on the issue of an EU institution.

An investigation by a global media consortium published in July showed that Pegasus was used in Hungary to infiltrate the digital devices of a number of targets, including at least 10 lawyers, an opposition politician and several journalists critical of the government.

In late December, The Associated Press reported that three Polish government critics were also hacked, based on research by Citizen Lab, a research institute at the University of Toronto. Last week, Poland’s most powerful politician acknowledged that the country had spyware, but denied that it was used against political opposition.

Polish victims include a lawyer, a prosecutor and a senator who was hacked several times in 2019 while leading the opposition election campaign in Parliament.

Reveals of hacking have shaken Poland, comparing it to the 1970s Watergate scandal in the United States and calling for a committee of inquiry in parliament.

However, Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s ruling party, Law and Justice, has said it sees no reason for an investigation. You can block a probe thanks mostly to the lower house, or Sejm.

However, the Senate, where the opposition has a small majority, has moved this week to set up a special committee to investigate the use of Pegasus, although its powers are limited.

Only the Sejm, whose legal function is to oversee the government, has the power to initiate an investigation with full powers of investigation, including the power to call witnesses. The Senate may invite witnesses but not compel them to appear.

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