- This puts Poland in the same category as other authoritarian regimes, MP Radoslaw Sikorski told POLITICO.
- Over the summer, it was reported that France, Spain and Hungary were among the countries where Pegasus was used to spy on journalists.
- Expert Łukasz Olejnik: after controlling the smartphone it is possible to view local files, photos, turn on the microphone and much more
- The EU does not have the power to decide how its member states deal with internal security, which makes it difficult to act against surveillance everywhere
- MEPs demand that the Commission investigate whether Poland, Hungary or other countries have violated EU rules on private communications and data protection using Pegasus
Researchers at Toronto-based Citizen Lab said Monday that Attorney Roman Gertic and Attorney General Ewa Warzosek fall victim to PegasusIt details how their phones were hacked to track their activity.
The Polish government denied targeting the two for political reasons. – Stanislaw Garin, press spokesman for the Coordinator of the Secret Services, said that any suggestions that the Polish services are using operational methods for the purpose of political struggle are incorrect.
But critics of the Polish government reject this statement, accusing the government of being behind the attacks.
– This places Poland, unfortunately, in the same category as other authoritarian regimes that abuse criminal and technological capabilities to target not bad guys but political rivals – said Politico MEP Radoslav Sikorsky, former Minister of Foreign Affairs.
This is not the first time that Pegasus has been used against opponents in Europe. An investigation called Project Pegasus this summer found that the program has been used in more than 50 countries against members of civil society, politicians, lawyers, journalists and others.
France, Spain and Hungary were among the countries targeted by journalists. In the case of Hungary, researchers have linked the use of Pegasus to the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Following these reports, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee held hearings and called on the European Commission to get involved and limit the use of spyware, including by member state governments.
Spyware in Europe
Pegasus, which is at the center of the scandal, is a powerful malware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group and sold primarily to government entities.
The malware uses “known or unknown security vulnerabilities in devices such as smartphones to gain access to it. After taking control of such a device, it is possible to view local files, images, turn on the microphone” and much more, said ukasz Olejnik, an independent Polish security researcher. Cyber.
Concerns about spyware have forced the European Union to tighten its rules on the export of this type of technology to authoritarian regimes.
But what was revealed this summer from Poland and Hungary presents a different, more difficult challenge to the EU: How do we prevent spyware from being used for political purposes within society?
“I have no idea how to ban it,” said German MP Moritz Koerner of the Renew Europe group, which deals with digital surveillance at the Civil Liberties Commission. He said the EU does not have the power to decide how member states should deal with internal security, which in the past made it difficult to act against surveillance everywhere.
The next step in Europe
Some countries have taken decisive action.
The Americans added the NSO Group to their list of entities in November, banning US companies from trading with it. Tech giant Apple also announced in November that it had filed a lawsuit against NSO Group “to prevent further abuse and harm.”
Eighty-eight human rights groups and experts have called on the European Union to impose targeted sanctions on an Israeli spyware producer.
But European governments explode when they are pressured to ban malware.
Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, suggested in October that he would approve Pegasus’ use by his government for purposes of state security. In November, the MIT Technology Review reported that the French government was in talks to buy this software. (Paris denied these reports.)
The spyware “can be used for legitimate purposes” by governments, Oleinik said, adding that it requires “appropriate oversight.”
But independent oversight is a problem in Poland, say critics, citing government efforts to bring courts, prosecutors, the media and other aspects of civil society under political control.
What is happening in Poland is no longer a democracy. Sophie, the liberal Dutch MEP, said this is no longer the rule of law. – But it’s part of the union. The Commission and the European Council cannot continue to take this matter lightly.
In ‘t Veld and other members of the European Parliament are demanding that the Commission investigate whether Poland, Hungary or other member states have violated EU rules on private communications and data protection using Pegasus.
On the other hand, Sikorsky said that these discoveries strengthened the arguments of the European Union to initiate infringement actions against Poland in the area of the rule of law. The Commission has just begun this investigation.
– Sikorsky said that victims of Polish piracy may seek legal compensation in the country, but they are also considering taking action elsewhere. – Can not be honestly examined in Poland. But, you know, we can try civil procedures, and we can also try to go to the European Court of Human Rights, maybe even of the International Criminal Court. “
Editing: Mishaw Bronatowski
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