Spyware must target crime, not opposition

08.05.2023 12:56

Spyware must target crime, not opposition

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Spying on political opponents, journalists or lawyers is illegal and against fundamental EU values. When security forces use spyware, it must be within clearly defined borders. The abuses of spyware in Poland and Hungary have been flagrant violations of the rule of law.

For the EPP Group, these are the most important conclusions of 12 months of parliamentary investigations into the use of surveillance spyware by EU Member States. Parliament's Committee of Inquiry will approve its final Report and recommendations tonight.

The EPP Group also warns that the Polish PiS (ECR)-led government might again spy on opposition or journalists ahead of the general elections this autumn. “The Inquiry Committee shed light on cases of illegal use of spyware against judges, lawyers, journalists and even the democratic opposition in Poland and Hungary. This abuse of spyware constitutes a flagrant violation of the rule of law, of EU values and the most basic democratic principles of free and fair elections. After what we observed during our mission to Warsaw, we are deeply concerned about the possibility that the PiS government might be using spyware to interfere again in the upcoming Polish parliamentary elections”, said Juan Ignacio Zoido MEP, EPP Group Spokesman in the Inquiry Committee.

"The EPP Group stresses the need to support those who have been illegally targeted with spyware. This should include access to effective legal remedy based on standards defined by the European Court of Human Rights. We also need a new European entity that provides technical and legal support to persons illegally targeted", said Vladimír Bilčík MEP, who negotiated the final Report on behalf of the EPP Group.

"At the same time, Member States must possess effective tools to protect national security and fight serious crime. The legal use of spyware should, therefore, have defined conditions and must be in line with the law and standards set out by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights case law. Spyware must not be used as a political weapon against democratic institutions, politicians or journalists”, emphasised Bilčík.

“Our security forces need advanced technological tools in order to face threats such as terrorism, organised crime or attacks against the constitutional order. However, we need to make sure that these spyware tools are used while respecting fundamental rights and in accordance with the principles of the rule of law”, echoed Zoido.

Note to editors

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 176 Members from all EU Member States

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