European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen says the spyware scandal involving an Israeli software producer and up to 50,000 leaked smartphone numbers was “completely unacceptable” if true.
“This has to be verified, but if it is the case, it is completely unacceptable,” she tells reporters in Prague.
The NSO Group and its Pegasus malware — capable of switching on a phone’s camera or microphone, and harvesting its data — have been in the headlines since 2016, when researchers accused it of helping spy on a dissident in the United Arab Emirates.
Sunday’s revelations — part of a collaborative investigation by The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde and other media outlets — raise privacy concerns and reveal the far-reaching extent to which the private firm’s software could be misused.
The leak consists of more than 50,000 smartphone numbers believed to have been identified as connected to people of interest by NSO clients since 2016, the news organizations said, although it was unclear how many devices were actually targeted or surveilled.
NSO has denied any wrongdoing, saying the allegations were false.