Spyware Is Running Amok in Europe, EU Lawmaker Warns

(Bloomberg) -- Spyware such as Pegasus is being deployed by state-run organizations across the European Union to snoop on politicians and journalists with virtually no EU-level oversight, according to a draft report for the bloc’s parliament.

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The document on the use of surveillance spyware released on Tuesday said citizens can “safely assume that all EU member states have purchased one or more commercial spyware products” such as Pegasus, developed by Israel-based NSO Group Ltd.

But, “no meaningful European oversight is in place; not to curb the illegal use of powerful spyware against individuals, nor to monitor the trade in these digital goods,” lawmaker Sophie in ‘t Veld, the report’s author, said in a statement.

The 159-page document focuses on the use of spyware based on investigations of journalists and civil society groups and the parliament’s own research missions. Its release comes after the parliament completed a fact-finding mission to Greece earlier this month where the government plans a new law to ban the use of spyware by private companies.

According to the report, which will be voted on in the coming months, Cyprus and Bulgaria, serve as export centers for spyware, Ireland offers favorable fiscal arrangements to a large vendor, and Luxembourg is a banking hub for many players in industry. Czech capital Prague hosts the annual European fair of the spyware industry, the ISS World “Wiretappers Ball.”

The report cites cases of spying including on Nikos Androulakis, president of Greece’s opposition socialist Pasok party and Polish senator Krzysztof Brejza, who served as campaign leader of the opposition party Civic Platform. Yet governments have been short on cooperation in investigating such cases, according to the document.

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