German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged tighter international controls on the trade in spyware Thursday following reports that several governments used Israeli phone malware to spy on activists, journalists and others.
Asked about the reports of widespread use of the Pegasus software, Merkel said it was “important” that “software configured in this way should not land in the wrong hands”.
A collaborative investigation by The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde and other media outlets revealed potentially far more extensive spying than previously thought using the malware from Israel’s NSO Group, capable of switching on a phone’s camera or microphone and harvesting its data.
Merkel called for “very restrictive conditions” on the trade in such spyware in countries in which surveillance operations are not tightly regulated, for example by independent courts.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Monday the revelations “confirm the urgent need to better regulate the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology and ensure strict oversight and authorisation”.
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