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Widespread use of spyware in the European Union by national governments against citizens is cause for concern. There is outright abuse of spyware for political purposes in four or five member states, which poses a grave threat to democracy. Spyware sits at the heart of new authoritarian regimes in Europe. It is establishing itself more widely as a tool for irresponsible political games and corruption. Fundamental citizens’ rights are trampled upon, and the integrity of national elections is under threat. Whether legitimate, or illegitimate, the use of spyware happens with little to no accountability. No meaningful European oversight is in place; not to curb the illegal use of powerful spyware against individuals, nor to monitor the trade in these digital goods. The spyware industry is pan-European, but the European Commission treats it as a purely national matter - leaving the defence of democracy wide open. The rapporteur calls for a strong European response.

Download the report here: