After four EU states, Azerbaijan is now also coming under pressure for the use of spyware like “Pegasus”. A planned resolution should address Germany as well.
The Justice Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is calling on Poland, Hungary, Greece, Spain and Azerbaijan to provide information on the use of spy programs such as “Pegasus”. All cases of abuse must also be fully investigated and reparations made to victims, according to a draft resolution. This is to be adopted in four weeks at the PACE plenary session in Strasbourg.
The parliamentarians also call on other Council of Europe member states to issue statements on the acquisition or use of “Pegasus.” Also named are Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Currently, 46 states are members of the Council of Europe, including all 27 EU countries.
Poland, Hungary, Greece and Spain had already been investigated by the EU Parliament in a special committee on the use of spy programs. The governments of the countries had used spy programs to monitor mobile phones of political opponents, public officials, journalists and human rights defenders as well.
Like the EU Special Committee, the deputies in the Council of Europe are not calling for a general ban on “Pegasus” and similar tools. However, states should comply with international standards. In any case, they should use spy programs only in exceptional situations as a last resort, the committee said. Also, software should not be exported to countries where there is a significant risk that it will be used for repression or human rights abuses.
Among the main suppliers of state Trojan programs are companies from Israel. The country has observer status with the Council of Europe. The parliamentarians are calling on the government in Jerusalem to report on exports to countries where the software could be used for human rights violations. Morocco, which is considered a “partner for democracy” by the PACE Assembly, is also to investigate the use of “Pegasus” that has become known.
In Hungary, Greece and Spain, the EU Committee of Inquiry and national committees on the spyware scandals in parliaments have so far had few consequences. Not so in Poland, where a government-appointed special commission presented a report Wednesday on illegal surveillance using “Pegasus” after an 18-month investigation. In it, the senators describe the spy software as a “cybernetic weapon” whose use violated the constitution. The 2019 elections, in which “Pegasus” was used against the opposition, were therefore unfair.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: “México ya no podría importar tecnologías de vigilancia de empresas israelíes“, Gibrán Aquino (CC BY-SA 4.0).