The EU must quickly legislate to further protect the rights of activists, journalists and politicians following the the Pegasus spyware scandal , said the justice commissionerof the bloc in the European Parliament.
Didier Reynders told MEPs that the European Commission "totally condemned " suspected attempts by national security services to illegally access information on political opponents through their phones.
It said the EU executive was closely following an investigation by the Hungarian data protection authority into allegations that The extreme right-wing government of Viktor Orban was among those targeting journalists, landlords opposition media and politicians with the invasive Pegasus spyware.
Reynders said it was already true, as confirmed by the European Court of Justice, that governments could not" restrict the confidentiality and integrity of communications "except in scenarios "Very strictly limited".
But he added that a pending EU privacy regulation would further tighten the rules, and called on MEPs and Member States to urgently agree on the details of this new law in light of the spyware scandal.
Reynders said: "Various reports have showed that some national security services were using Pegasus spyware, to gain direct access to citizens, equipment, including political opponents and journalists.
" Let me say at the outset that the committee totally condemns any illegal access to systems or any kind of pblocking or interception of communications from users of the community. It 'sa crime throughout European Union . "
A consortium of 17 media outlets, including the Guardian, revealed in July that global clients of Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group had hacking software used to target human rights activists, journalists and lawyers.
The investigation was based on a forensic analysis of the phones and analysis of a database dont that of the French presidentçais, Emmanuel Macron , and the President of the European Council Charles Michel, as well as other heads of state and senior government, diplomatic and military officials in 34 countries.
Reynders, a former Belgian justice minister, was speaking at the start of a debate in the European Parliament on the scandal.
Sophie In 't Veld, a Dutch MEP from the liberal D66 party, said the Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, of which she is a leading member, will launch an investigation on the use of Pegasus in the EU.
"We want full clarity and honesty now," she said. "The European Commission denies having had any contact with the company, but I find it hard to believe. At our initiative, [the committee] will launch a prompt investigation into the allegations.
"I would like to equalment to reiterate our call for an appropriate European intelligence service, subject to full democratic control by the European Parliament. Europe is not the Wild West. We must protect our citizens and our democracy. "
Hungary 's data protection authority NAIH last month said it had launched an investigation official on the allegations concerning the Hungarian government. the use of the Pegasus software.
At least five Hungarian journalists were on a list number of opposition politician György Gemesi , mayor of the city of Gödöllő and head of a national association of mayors.
La Hungarian law provides that in cases where national security is at stake, theintelligence services can order surveillance without judicial oversight, only the signature of the Minister of Justice.
Hungary Minister of Justice Judit Varga declined to comment , but said that "every country needs such tools ".
In 't Veld said: "Reports that the Hungarian government Pegasus spyware used is very troubling. It deserves a full and independent investigation. Journalists, politicians and activists must be able to do their jobs without being spied on by an increasingly authoritarian government. massive violation of civil liberties. ”
Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, MEP from the French party Europe Ecologie Les Verts, said:" So until now, the Hungarian government has still not reacted to the revelations of the Pegasus project. Neither transparency norThis responsibility has not been brought to the public debate. "
The ONS has denied that the inclusion of a number on the list
NSO is an Israeli surveillance company regulated by the country's Defense Ministry, which approves the sale of its spyware technology to government customers all over the world.
The company claims that it only sells to the military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies in 40 unidentified countries for the purposes of terrorism and criminal investigations.
It further claims to verify rigorousIt also keeps the human rights records of its clients before allowing them to use its spy tools. NSO says it "does not operate the systems it sells to government-controlled clients and does not have access to the data of its clients " targets.