The European Parliament approved on Thursday a text including a series of recommendations to the EU institutions and to member states, including targeted recommendations on Cyprus regarding its reported role as an export hub for spyware. The report, which builds on the work of the Committee of Inquiry to investigate the use of Pegasus and equivalent surveillance spyware (PEGA), was approved with 411 votes in favour, 97 against and 37 abstentions.
More specifically, the text of the recommendation calls on Cyprus to “thoroughly assess all export licences issued for spyware and repeal them where appropriate”.
Also, to “thoroughly assess the shipment of spyware material within the EU’s internal market between Member States and map the different Israeli companies or companies owned and run by Israeli citizens that are registered in Cyprus and that are involved in such activities”,
It further calls for the release of a report on the Spy Van case and a fully investigation into all allegations of illegitimate use and exports of spyware on journalists, lawyers, and Cypriot citizens
It further calls on Cyprus to “release the report of the special investigator on the ‘Spyware Van’ case, as requested by the committee during its official mission to Cyprus” and “fully investigate, with the assistance of Europol, all allegations of the illegitimate use and exports of spyware, notably on journalists, lawyers, civil society actors and Cypriot citizens”.
The recommendations, which are not binding, call for specific legislation on the use of spyware, which it is stressed should be permitted only in exceptional cases and for a limited time.
The European Parliament also calls for the creation of an EU Tech Lab which could assist in investigations with research and investigations, and provide technological support including through device screening and forensic research.
The report also includes targeted recommendations to Hungary, Poland, Greece and Spain, regarding accusations and confirmed cases of surveillance. Particularly in the cases of Hungary and Poland, the European Parliament calls for respect of ECHR judgements and the restoration of judicial independence and oversight bodies.