The European Parliament set up an “inquiry committee” on Thursday to look into allegations of use of Pegasus spyware by bloc governments, particularly in Hungary and Poland.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of an investigation into alleged violations of EU law by Hungary and Poland, among others, using surveillance software, a statement said.
The 38-member committee said it would “examine current national surveillance laws and whether Pegasus spyware was used for political purposes, for example, against journalists, politicians and lawyers.”
Pegasus malware, created by the Israeli technology company NSO Group, became embroiled in controversy last July when a joint investigation by several media outlets reported that a string of governments around the world had used it to spy on critics and opponents.
Hungary was listed as a potential user of Pegasus by the Investigative Journalism Consortium, targeting journalists, lawyers and other public figures.
A senior official in Hungary’s ruling Fidez party confirmed that the country had used the software, but said it had not been used to spy on its citizens illegally.
Poland’s ruling party leader admitted in January that the country had also bought Israeli spyware, but dismissed claims that it had been used against the opposition.
Pegasus was used against anti-Polish individuals, according to Citizen Lab, a Canadian-based cybersecurity watchdog.
Pegasus can turn smartphones into pocket-spying devices, allowing users to read target messages, track their location, and even turn on their cameras and microphones unknowingly.