1. August 2022

Past and upcoming Pegasus hearings and meetings

Also within the European Union, journalists, opposition politicians, critical prosecutors, diplomats, lawyers and civil society actors are being spied on with Pegasus and similar tools. This violates Union law. The European Parliament therefore decided on 10 March 2022 to set up a Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware. The vote to establish the committee was carried 635 in favour, 36 against and 20 abstentions.

The inquiry should gather information on the extent to which the Member States‘ use of the surveillance tools violates the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter and thereby jeopardises the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU, such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. To this end, the investigation mandate consists of 18 different tasks.

The Committee organises hearings and closed meetings, journeys, events and commissions studies. After 12 months, its work ends with a final report. Rapporteur is the Liberal Sophie in ‚t Veld.

All hearings and meetings:

1. August 2022

Interview with Mona Shtaya from the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement (7amleh)

Dear Mona, in the Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of „Pegasus“ and equivalent surveillance spyware, you reported that Palestinians are affected by numerous surveillance technologies. What are they, for example?

Palestinians are subjected to a multi-layered surveillance system. According to the Oslo accords, the Israeli authorities control the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This system impedes and deprives Palestinians of accessing a safe, affordable and high-quality Internet.

As for surveillance technologies, there is e.g. CCTV. Cameras are put to securitize and militarize the public urban places. Also, over the past two years, ground-breaking investigations and reports show other forms of how Israel is developing and testing its surveillance techniques on Palestinians, one of those initiatives is the system Blue Wolf, which was developed when the whole world was immersed in the fight against the pandemic. It started in Hebron, and was used all over the West Bank after that. It is a smart phone app powered by a massive database of Palestinians’ personal information. It draws from a larger database called the „Wolf Pack”, which seeks to profile every Palestinian living in the West Bank without consent or permit. Each profile contains photographs, a family history, and educational background, as well as a security rating. Earlier this year, a new report showed that Israeli soldiers are ordered to enter the photos and details of at least 50 Palestinians into the Israeli force’s „Blue Wolf“ tracking system over the course of each shift. Soldiers who fail to make the quota are forced to remain on duty until they do.… Weiterlesen

12. Juli 2022

Israel and Spyware (12 July 2022)

Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy Manager, AccessNow

Mona Shtaya, Advisor at 7amleh, Arab Center for the advancement of Social Media

Eitay Mack, Human Rights Lawyer, representing HCLU in its court case against NSO

NSO claims that it complies with the law, explains Marwa Fatafta of AccessNow. However, six Palestinian civil rights activists were intercepted with it, after their civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory were labeled as “terrorist organizations”. Some of the organizations were also supported by the EU. One of those attacked is Salah Hamouri, a French-Palestinian lawyer, he is currently in detention without charge. He may be deported because he has opposed the Israeli state. The committee should therefore meet with the groups concerned, as well as Israeli government-critical organizations, in order to realize that technology is a tool of state repression. Haaretz writes that 80% of the cyberweapons personnel come from the military or its intelligence services. Many of them served in the notorious Unit 8200.

Pegasus joins numerous other surveillance tools such as cameras and a biometric database with facial images, etc. Supposedly, Israel does not intercept activities in the Occupied Territories. However, there is no supervision there, which provides the best conditions for the use of mercenary spyware. Israel’s government, according to Fatafta, is not only incapable of regulation, but promotes the mercenary spyware trade. Countries that do not respect human rights, are also supplied. In return, Israel received e.g. overflight rights. She knows of cases like Emirati activist Ahmed Mansour, who is in prison for 10 years. But we have no evidence that technology has ever prevented terrorism. Many of those affected also live in exile, including in EU countries. They need to be able to do their work. But companies like NSO make their prosecution possible in the first place. How this … Weiterlesen

21. Juni 2022

Exchange of Views | Stocktaking of EU spyware providers (21 June 2022)

The PEGA committee held an exchange of views with the representatives of the NSO Group. It was followed by a hearing on Stock-taking of EU spyware providers to hear experts on the current landscape of spyware providers in Europe.

Exchange of Views with NSO

Chaim Gelfand, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of NSO

Nicola Bonucci, Nicola Bonucci, Partner in the Global Trade and Investigations & White Collar Defense practices at Paul Hastings law firm (Paris)

Hearing: Stocktaking of EU spyware providers

Edin Omanovic, Privacy International

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

Ben Wagner, TU DelftWeiterlesen

14. Juni 2022

Big tech and Spyware (14 June 2022)

The use of spyware massively undermines trust in digital privacy. Are major platforms aware of this, and can or do they and, above all, their users want to take legal action against it?

The General Data Protection Regulation at least makes it possible to hold companies accountable for breaches of data protection and privacy. But what about in the case of mercenary spy programs used by police forces or intelligence agencies? Do companies even cooperate with security authorities in the use of Pegasus & Co?

Panel 1:

Kaja Ciglic, Microsoft

Charley Snyder, Google

David Agranovich, Meta

Panel 2:

Ross Anderson, Cambridge University

Patricia Egger, Proton AGWeiterlesen

13. Juni 2022

Spyware – Use, Supervision and Safeguards (13 June 2022)

In Panel 1, we are interested in the legal situation in European countries when other nations use mercenary spying programs like Pegasus there. For example, what changes in the legal situation when such surveillance is intercepted in the EU by a third country? Panel 2 analysed the promises of European governments to use spy software from Pegasus & Co. only in a legally compliant way. Is it even possible to verify the possibly illegal use of a spyware with the available means?

Panel 1:

Román Ramírez, Instituto de Empresa/ Rooted Con

Michel Arditti, Securewyse Consulting and Services

Panel 2:

Sessa Duro, International Association of Judges

Wojciech Wiewiórowski, European Data Protection Supervisor

Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier FoundationWeiterlesen

9. Juni 2022

Exchange of View (9 June 2022)

Which countries and companies in the European Union use Pegasus, and how does this violate privacy?

Ana Brian Nougrères, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy

Peggy Hicks, director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR)Weiterlesen

10. Mai 2022

Functioning of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (10 May 2022)

In the meeting, the Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware elected Raphaël Glucksmann as a fourth Vice-Chair.

Constanze Kurz (netzpolitik.org, Germany)

Adam Haertlé (ZaufanaTrzecia Strona, Poland)

Bill Marczak (Citizen Lab, Canada)Weiterlesen

19. April 2022

Constitutive Meeting of PEGA (19 April 2022)

Today, April 19, the EU Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into the use of Pegasus and similar spyware in Europe met for the first time in Brussels. On the agenda was the election of the chair and its three representatives. The elected members were:

Chair: Jeroen Lenaers (EPP, NL)

First Vice-Chair: Sándor Rónai (S&D, HU)

Second Vice-Chair: Diana Riba i Giner (Greens/EFA, ES)

Third Vice-Chair: Moritz Körner (Renew, DE)

This first regular session also gathered three different experts on mercenary spyware, specifically Pegasus:

Laurent Richard & Sandrine Rigaud (Forbidden Stories, France)

John Scott-Railton & Bill Marczak (Citizen Lab, Canada)

Donncha Ó Cearbhail & Likhita Banerji, (Amnesty International, Germany)Weiterlesen