The EU Data Protection Authority called for a ban on the development and use of Pegasus-like commercial spyware, as the unprecedented level of intrusiveness might endanger users’ right to privacy in the region.
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said, “Pegasus constitutes a paradigm shift in terms of access to private communications and devices, which is able to affect the very essence of our fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy. This fact makes its use incompatible with our democratic values.”
Pegasus is a military intrusion software developed by an Israeli cyber-arms company NSO Group. It is capable of hacking into smartphones running Android and iOS and turning the devices into remote monitoring tools. Once the tool is enabled it can extract sensitive information, record conversations, and track users’ movements.
The NSO Group has denied the claims saying the software was sold only to governments to fight against crime and terrorism. The firm says it was on a “life-saving mission,” though evidence suggests Pegasus is being used to hack into the phones of journalists, political figures, dissidents, and activists in several countries, including Israel.
Earlier in January 2022, Israeli police were accused of spying on citizens with the NSO Group’s spyware to gather intelligence without a search warrant authorizing the surveillance.
The EDPS said,”‘National security cannot be used as an excuse to extensive use of such technologies nor as an argument against the involvement of the European Union.”
More supervision over the use of surveillance measures, stricter implementation of data protection regulations, and strengthening legislation outlawing the use of sophisticated hacking tools such as Pegasus to safeguard against unlawful use have also been recommended by the authority.