The European Parliament on Thursday created a “committee of inquiry” to probes allegations over the use of Pegasus spyware by governments in the bloc, notably in Hungary and Poland.
Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to “examine alleged breaches of EU legislation in using the surveillance software program by, amongst others, Hungary and Poland”, a press release stated.
The 38-member committee “goes to look into present nationwide legal guidelines regulating surveillance, and whether or not Pegasus adware was used for political functions towards, for instance, journalists, politicians and legal professionals”, it said.
The Pegasus malware, created by Israeli technology firm the NSO Group, was engulfed in controversy last July after a collaborative investigation by several media outlets reported that a string of governments around the world had used it to spy on critics and opponents.
Hungary was listed by the investigative journalism consortium as a potential user of Pegasus, with targets including journalists, lawyers and other public figures.
A senior official in Hungary’s ruling party Fidesz confirmed that the country had used the software, but said it had not been used to illegally spy on the countries citizens.
Poland’s powerful ruling party leader admitted in January that the country also bought the Israeli 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.
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.
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