EU delegation ‘worried’ by Polish spyware use

Thursday, Sep 22, 2022

WARSAW: A European Parliament delegation on Wednesday voiced concern over the Polish government’s use of Pegasus spyware, saying that instead of protecting citizens it had targeted democratic actors.

The MEPs, on a visit to Warsaw this week, are part of a special inquiry committee set up to probe instances of abuse of surveillance software in the bloc. "The exchanges we had I think shed new light on the illegal use of intrusive spyware in Poland against democratic actors," delegation head Jeroen Lenaers told reporters.

"We see that the system of legal and institutional checks and balances has been dismantled to enable targeting individuals that are deemed opponents of the government," the Dutch politician added.

The Pegasus malware, created by Israeli technology firm NSO Group, was engulfed in controversy last year after a media investigation reported that governments around the world had used it to spy on critics and opponents.

Poland’s powerful ruling party leader admitted the country bought the spyware, but dismissed claims it was used against the opposition. Citizen Lab, a cyber security watchdog based in Canada, has said that Pegasus was used against Polish opposition figures, including a senator co-ordinating a 2019 election campaign.

Pegasus can turn smartphones into pocket spying devices, allowing the user to read the target’s messages, track their location, and even turn on their camera and microphone without their knowledge.