Israeli authorities say it should be probed and U.S. authorities are calling for it to be sanctioned, but EU officials have a different idea for how to handle Pegasus spyware: just ban that shit entirely.
That’s the main takeaway from a new memo released by EPDS, the Union’s dedicated data watchdog on Tuesday, noting that a full-on ban across the entire region is the only appropriate response to the “unprecedented risks” the tech poses—not only to people’s devices but “to democracy and the rule of law.”
“As the specific technical characteristics of spyware tools like Pegasus make control over their use very difficult, we have to rethink the entire existing system of safeguards established to protect our fundamental rights and freedoms,” the report reads. “Pegasus constitutes a paradigm shift in terms of access to private communications and devices. This fact makes its use incompatible with our democratic values.”
A “paradigm shift” is a good way to describe the tool, which has been used to target a mounting number of civic actors, activists, and political figures from around the globe, including some notable figures from inside the EU. This past summer, local outlets reported that French president Emmanuel Macron surfaced among the list of potential targets that foreign actors had planned to target with the software, and later reports revealed traces of the tech appearing on phones from Macron’s current staffers. Officials from other EU member states like Hungary and Spain have also reported the tech on their devices, and Poland became the latest member to join the list last month when a team of researchers found the spyware being used to surveil three outspoken critics of the Polish government.