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EU data protection org seeks blanket ban on Pegasus Spyware

EU data protection org seeks blanket ban on Pegasus Spyware
Photo Credit: Pixabay
16 Feb, 2022
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The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) seeks a bloc level ban on the Pegasus spyware tools within the European Union (EU). The EU data watchdog warns that “Pegasus might lead to an unprecedented level of intrusiveness, which threatens the essence of the right to privacy.”  

Although Israel’s NSO Group, the developer of the spyware, asserts that they only sell to the government to combat terrorism and crime. Several reports testify that Pegasus has been used to target politicians, activists, government critics and journalists in many EU member states.  

The spyware is capable of conducting remote surveillance of smartphones.   

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A 28 January New York Times report claimed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States had “bought a version of Pegasus, NSO’s premier spying tool.” It further mentioned that “for nearly a decade, the Israeli firm had been selling its surveillance software on a subscription basis to law-enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, promising that it could do what no one else — not a private company, not even a state intelligence service — could do: consistently and reliably crack the encrypted communications of any iPhone or Android smartphone.”   

Taking cognizance of the instances, EDPS has called for a “ban on the development and deployment of spyware with the capability of Pegasus in the EU would be the most effective option.” The organisation further states that the spyware that intrudes into smartphones and garner all the data on it is “incompatible with our democratic values.”   

Spyware tools like Pegasus has the “potential to cause unprecedented risks and damages not only to the fundamental freedoms but also to democracy and the rule of law,” EDPS said.  

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The spyware had also created a lot of stir in the Indian political ambiance with the media reports claiming that the ruling Modi government bought the Pegasus spyware as a part of $2 billion arms deal in 2017 with Israel.  

“The countries (India and Israel) had agreed on the sale of a package of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear worth roughly $2 billion — with Pegasus and a missile system as the centrepieces,” the report said.