The MEP in charge of the probe is highly critical of some of the bloc’s members.

The lead lawmaker investigating the use of spyware in Europe is calling out several powerful European politicians, according to a report in POLITICO.

The investigation is headed by Sophie in ’t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament (MEP). In ‘t Veld says that several EU member states “share the blame” for the widespread problem of phone hacking through malicious software.

MEPs spent months investigating a series of scandals in countries such as Spain, Greece, Hungary and Poland. The scandals were related to the usage of Pegasus spyware for the hacking of journalists’ and politicians’ phones.

As she issued her draft report this week, In ‘t Veld declared that the results of the probe “are shocking and should alarm every European citizen.” In an interview, she told POLITICO that all member states have spyware at their disposal, whether they admit it or not.

“We are very worried about American democracy, we are very worried about democracy in Brazil… Why is it that we are worried about lots of things except for democracy inside the European Union itself?”, In ‘t Veld said.

Calls for a moratorium on the use of spyware

The report contains some truly shocking and wide-ranging findings. “Manipulation of national elections with the use of spyware directly affects the composition of EU institutions and the political balance in the EU governance bodies”, it says.

The report further observes that the four or five governments accused of abusing spyware “represent almost a quarter of the EU population, so they carry considerable weight in the Council”.

Perhaps sensing the potential for serious pushback, In ’t Veld is calling for a moratorium on spyware until the EU bloc figures out joint rules on the use of malicious software. 

She says the moratorium can be lifted on a country-by-country basis if countries can prove they have a framework in place for responsible use of intrusive hacking tools. They must also consent to EU oversight and immediately repeal export licenses for software that does not pass the EU’s criteria, she said.