Tuesday, April 23

Pegasus: Poland Starts Probe Into Previous Government’s Spyware Use

Edited by Hiba Anvar

Poland recently launched an investigation into its previous government’s use of the controversial spyware Pegasus. Pegasus is a powerful tool designed by Israel company NSO Group. The spyware is capable of targeting mobile phones, accessing data from secure messaging apps, and even turning the device into a recorder.

The parliamentary inquiry is underway and the possibility of criminal charges. Poland’s new Justice minister Adam Bodnar has told the Guardian that in the coming months, the government would notify people who were targeted with Pegasus. And as per the current law, the affected ones could seek financial compensation.

Bodnar also added that within a couple of months, the government will get extensive knowledge of how this equipment was used and for what purpose.

A parliamentary commission on Pegasus has begun. Bodnar said the full list remained confidential for now but added that it included many more well-known people than the few political figures already named.

As Pegasus is also used in legitimate criminal investigations, the justice ministry has decided not to release the list of the targeted individuals. Instead, they have opted to inform the individuals by letter that they have been targeted. Then the person who is targeted can decide on whether they would like to go public with the information or join in future legal action over the surveillance.

Wojciech Klicki, a lawyer and activist with the Panoptykon Foundation has noted that when the courts gave the authorizations for the Pegasus for surveillance, the court didn’t know what kind of equipment would be used.

“The system is constructed in a way that encourages judges to make automatic approvals of surveillance requests,” he said, during a recent panel discussion on the topic.

The Polish authorities are believed to have stopped using Pegasus in 2021 when several media outlets bought into the noticed the security breach. Klicki also added that it is important to be noted that along with uncovering the abuses of the past, the parliamentary commission should also tackle improving the legal frameworks long term.