Strasbourg, 15/06/2023 – Today, the PEGA Committee of the European Parliament, tasked with investigating the use of spyware against journalists, activists, and politicians, concludes its mandate with the adoption of its recommendations by MEPs. The Committee has faced persistent political pressure, particularly from accused Member States, who have been uncooperative throughout the inquiry.
With these guidelines, Parliament demands a complete cease of spyware usage by the end of the year unless specific conditions are met. Moreover, it calls for the establishment of an “EU Tech Lab” to provide victims with phone screening and technical support. Pirate Party MEPs were able to incorporate demands for safeguards into the text, which would make it effectively impossible to deploy spyware, and are calling for urgent action.
Marcel Kolaja, Member and Quaestor of the European Parliament who was active in the Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA), comments:
“Based on what I witnessed during my mission to Poland, it is evident that the safeguards designed to protect citizens from government surveillance failed. It is imperative that we take urgent action to address the serious misuse of surveillance technologies like Pegasus in Europe.
“Our proposed measures aim to restore trust and safeguard individuals’ privacy and fundamental rights. Although I advocated for a ban on spyware, I am glad that we reached at least a compromise that calls for the establishment of clear EU standards, improving the current situation. Only by imposing strict boundaries on surveillance practices, we can effectively protect the privacy of our citizens.
“We also propose the establishment of an EU Tech Lab, a specialized institution dedicated to conducting research and technical investigations. This Lab could also serve as a valuable resource for citizens to check if they are being spied on.”
Patrick Breyer, German Pirate Party Member of the European Parliament and digital freedom fighter, comments:
“The phone hacking attacks and the ransomware crimes have a common cause: security vulnerabilities nowadays endanger human lives. In the age of the digital revolution, commercial manufacturers bear a responsibility and should be liable for damages if security bugs are their fault. Unfortunately, today’s resolution stops short of calling for this accountability.
“In the face of the Pegasus scandal, the Commission is seriously proposing we introduce chat control mass surveillance and fundamental security vulnerabilities by mandating encryption backdoors. The safety of our mobile phones and personal information must have priority over government appetite for surveillance and over corporate interests!”