The European Parliament’s PEGA committee has investigated the use of malicious software for espionage purposes.
Spyware such as Pegasus and Predator, used by some European countries to spy on politicians, journalists and citizens, should have stricter regulations, according to MEPs.
This is one of the main conclusions of the European Parliament’s committee called PEGA, which conducted a year-long investigation into the use of spyware.
MEPs in the parliamentary group argue that spyware is a threat to democracy and should only be used under strict conditions.
„We have to make sure that it can only be used under very strictly defined conditions against terrorism, against organized crime,” Jeroen Leiners, head of the PEGA commission, told Euronews.
„Any abuse directly undermines democracy in the EU, directly undermines the rule of law, and all governments have a responsibility to oppose it.”
„Looking at the way member states cooperated with the investigation, I think we can criticize all the member states for not really cooperating with the work we wanted to do,” he said.
The final report contains specific recommendations for the five countries where spyware abuses have been identified.
In Hungary and Poland, governments have eliminated independent oversight mechanisms and are being asked to restore judicial independence. In Greece, it was used for political and financial gain. Cyprus has also been accused of exporting technology to third countries.
And in Spain, the report calls for fair trials in 47 cases where it is unclear who authorized the use of spyware.
One of the MEPs responsible for the investigation explained to Euronews that throughout the process he was pressured by national interests that sought to influence, delay and obstruct the commission’s work.
„But you know what? If we tolerate spyware on journalists, government critics, opposition politicians, but also members of the ruling party who are blackmailed in the EU, democracy is dead,” a Dutch MEP said in an interview.
Affected member states have until the end of the year to comply with the new conditions. If they don’t, the European Parliament calls for a ban on such spying technologies.