The use of spyware against journalists and politicians has been well documented in the EU, but what measures are being taken to prevent recurring abuse of the intrusive software?
In July 2021, a collaborative civil society investigation called the ‘Pegasus Project’ triggered a series of revelations about instances of illegal spying carried out on journalists, lawyers, opposition figures and European heads of states by law enforcement agencies and other states. This student paper by Johanna Pruessing discusses state, corporate and civil society responses to the revelations and finds conflicting interests within governments and the tech industry over spyware regulation. She observes that this is the result of blind spots in digital governance as applied to the development, purchase, deployment, and oversight of commercially-developed, targeted spyware in Europe, which has paved the way for large-scale abuse. Governance in compliance with human rights would require a comprehensive reform effort on the side of governments to introduce effective accountability frameworks—for both the private and public sectors—for the trade and use of spyware.