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Polish government accused of using malware to spy on opponents

Opposition parties have accused the Polish government of using malware to spy on the cell phones of opposing members of parliament as well as lawyers and activists linked to it. Once again, the heart of the matter is the Pegasus spyware, which appears time and again under worldwide scrutiny precisely because of its possibilities of use outside current legislation and against individuals with positions opposed to those of federal administrations.

This is the case, for example, of Kzystof Brejza, senator and leader of the Civic Platform party, who reported having his cell phone compromised more than 30 times in the six months before the 2019 elections. compromisers obtained from the candidate’s cell phone were broadcast on Polish state TV. He claims the texts were tampered with to make it look like he created groups and sent hate messages to members of the situation.

While questioning the validity of the 2019 elections and pointing out signs of manipulation and theft of information, the senator claims that the stolen data must also have turned in opposition party strategies and helped the government in its own campaign. At the time, he was the head of Plataforma Civica and had, on his cell phone, important information about the entire process. The result of the leak, according to him, was the destabilization of the group, the departure of supporters, and the loss of votes.

Roman Giertych, a lawyer for Civic Platform members including in anti-government lawsuits, said he was raided 18 times in the months leading up to the 2019 election. the increasing interference of the state in judicial matters.

Citizen Lab categorized the use of Pegasus in cases as a flagrant undermining of democracy, and highlights the high potential for abuse in the use of the tool. The organization said the incidents found in Poland were indicative of an extreme level of monitoring against opponents.

Government Denies

In response, government security services spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn refuted the allegations and said spy software is only used in justified cases and under court order. He found any accusations of government use of espionage false, but he did not confirm or deny that the Polish administration is or was a client of the NSO Group, responsible for developing Pegasus.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki branded allegations of espionage as fake news, while Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said he was unaware of any use of surveillance software against citizens. On the other hand, he confirmed that Polish authorities use software of this type by claiming that they are not “impotent” against those who commit digital crimes.

The NSO Group also spoke out against the allegations and denied knowing who its customers’ targets are or having any control over how Pegasus will be used by them. On the other hand, the developer said it works only with authorities and police forces, with a zero-tolerance policy against abuses of power, which involves safeguards in the system that aim to guarantee the use of the software only in authorized cases. The company did not confirm that Poland is its customer but said it had already terminated government contracts involved in the illegal use of the tool, also without naming names.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians from the European Union promised to launch investigations against the signs of abuse in the use of Pegasus that have been emerging in the bloc. Some of the members have already called for a ban on the use of the solution by member countries, similar to what happened recently in the US. In November, Joe Biden’s government placed the NSO Group on a list of entities that cannot negotiate the purchase and sale of technology with US companies, while other partners such as Amazon terminated contracts with the developer.

Source: Fonte: Associated Press

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