A Polish Senate commission opens an investigation into the use of powerful spyware against government critics, by hearing testimony from cybersecurity experts, who compare targeting of opposition figures under the right-wing government to methods used by the Kremlin against critics in Russia.
John Scott-Railton and Bill Marczak, senior researchers with the Citizen Lab, a research group based at the University of Toronto, tell the seven-member committee that they were able to confirm that data was stolen from the phone of a Polish senator, Krzysztof Brejza. That came on top of their findings in late December that Brejza and two others — a Polish lawyer and a prosecutor — were hacked aggressively with Pegasus, spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Group.
The revelations have shocked many Poles because Pegasus is a tool meant to be used by governments to fight terrorists and other dangerous criminals. It gives its operators complete access to a mobile device, allowing them to extract passwords, photos, messages, contacts and browsing history and activate the microphone and camera for real-time eavesdropping.
Many view it as a human rights violation to use it against domestic opponents who criticize the government, but pose no danger to society.