On 7 October 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Eva Kaili of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, addressed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“According to the Toronto University Citizen Lab research team, NSO Pegasus spyware has been deployed in 45 countries, including EU Member States such as Greece, France and Poland. Despite claims by the Israeli supplier company that the software is being used by national authorities throughout the world to combat crime, it is emerging that repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Mexico are using it to track journalists and dissidents, resulting in their imprisonment and execution.
1. Can the Commission indicate the outcome of its contacts with the Cypriot authorities to clarify matters regarding the sale of this software to authoritarian governments on EU territory?
2. Does it have any information regarding the possibility of European nationals that are activists or journalists, for example, having fallen victim to this spyware?
3. What steps will it take to ensure that any use of Pegasus or similar spyware by EU citizens is clearly and firmly prohibited under the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 that regulate trade in invasive software?”
On 8 January 2021, Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating:
“The Commission has contacted the competent authority in Cyprus regarding the alleged exports of ‘NSO Pegasus spyware’, who confirmed that they have not issued any export licenses under Regulation (EC) No 428/2009, nor received any application from this company. The Cypriot authorities also report that, according to their investigation, NSO is not registered in Cyprus.
To date, the Commission has not been seized with evidence that European nationals that are activists or journalists have fallen victim to this spyware.
In 2016, the Commission presented a legislative proposal to enhance export controls, especially with respect to exports of cyber-surveillance technologies that may be misused for human rights violations. The Commission welcomes that the co-legislators have agreed at a trilogue on 9 November 2020 on a new set of rules that will make these controls more effective. It is expected that the new rules will become effective in the second half of 2021.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/spying-watching-surveillance-3346160/