spyware abuse

European Parliament Calls For Stricter Measures Against Spyware Abuse

The European Parliament has taken a significant step in combating spyware abuse by adopting a resolution that highlights the urgent need for reforms.

Following an extensive year-long investigation into the use of spyware like Pegasus, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) assert that such illicit practices pose a severe threat to democracy itself.

The resolution received overwhelming support, with 411 votes in favor, 97 against, and 37 abstentions.

Committee Chair Jeroen Lenaers (EPP, NL) said,

Spyware can be a powerful instrument in the battle against crime, but when handled incorrectly by governments, it poses a significant threat to the rule of law and fundamental rights. Instead of outlawing spyware, we should ensure that EU member states meet certain conditions, such as adequate judicial authorization and independent oversight, and that spyware use is proportional and in accordance with EU legislation. It is now up to the other EU institutions to carry on the job, and we will continue to monitor the execution of our proposals.

Key Recommendations To Curb Spyware Abuse

MEPs are calling for credible investigations, legislative changes, and better enforcement of existing rules to tackle spyware abuse.

The resolution, adopted with a substantial majority, outlines specific recommendations for countries like Hungary, Poland, Greece, Cyprus, and Spain.

These recommendations include restoring judicial independence, implementing independent judicial authorization for spyware deployment, launching credible investigations into abuse cases, and ensuring that citizens have access to meaningful legal remedies.

To prevent further misuse, MEPs say that spyware should only be deployed in member states when claims of abuse have been thoroughly examined and national legislation is in conformity with the approved standards.

They emphasize that data falling under lawyer-client privilege or belonging to politicians, doctors, or the media should be shielded from surveillance unless there is evidence of criminal activity.

MEPs also propose mandatory notifications for targeted individuals and independent oversight after surveillance activities have taken place.

In addition, MEPs recommend the establishment of an EU Tech Lab, an independent research institute tasked with investigating surveillance practices and providing technological support.

They also address the foreign policy dimension of spyware abuse, demanding an in-depth review of export licenses, stronger enforcement of EU export control rules, and developing a joint EU-US spyware strategy.

Overall, the resolution emphasizes the need for clear rules, accountability, and the implementation of their recommendations by EU institutions.

By taking these measures, the European Parliament aims to curb the misuse of spyware, safeguard democracy, and ensure the responsible use of surveillance technology.

For more news and updates on Cybersecurity, visit The Cybersecurity Club.

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