EU commissioner ‘condemns’ hacks using Pegasus spyware
EU commissioner Didier Reynders has condemned the alleged use of Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware by national security services to hack political opponents and journalists.
The former Belgian lawyer told the European parliament that legislation is needed to protect the rights of activists, journalists and politicians following the spyware scandal - warning that perpetrators must be prosecuted.
Reynder said that while laws already existed to protect digital rights in the EU, a further tightening of the rules pending a privacy regulation was required.
International scrutiny over alleged abuses would continue, he said.
“Any indication that such intrusion of privacy actually occurred needs to be thoroughly investigated and all responsible for a possible breach have to be brought to justice,” The Guardian reported Reynder as saying.
“The commission totally condemns any illegal access to systems or any kind of illegal trapping or interception of community user communications. It’s a crime in the whole of the European Union,” he said.
The EU is closely monitoring an investigation in Hungary into reports that Viktor Orban’s right-wing government used the Israeli spyware to target journalists and dissenters, the EU’s justice tsar also said.
At least five Hungarian journalists appeared on a leaked list of potential targets in the Pegasus scandal.
NSO Group has denied that numbers on the leaked list were selected for surveillance: “The list is not a list of Pegasus targets or potential targets,” the company has said.
“The numbers in the list are not related to NSO Group in any way.”
The Pegasus scandal made international headlines in July 2021, when governments faced allegations that they used Israeli-made malware to spy on the phones of activists, journalists, corporate executives, and politicians.
The spyware works by infecting a user's phone covertly to monitor emails, calls, locations, text messages, and cameras.
Up to 50,000 people around the world have been listed as potential targets of Pegasus, according to The Guardian.
The list of leaked potential targets ranges from French President Emmanuel Macron to the Prime Minister of Iraq.