The government has been caught red handed purchasing Pegasus spyware to use on its citizens, sparking a backlash among the German people.
Given the country’s history, one would think that Germany would be a bit more repulsed by authoritarian measures. Unfortunately, governments around the world have chosen to ignore the past and continue implementing authoritarian lockdown orders and other tyrannical measures such as spying on their citizens and tracking them.
The German government has officially admitted to purchasing Pegasus spyware from NSO, even though some of the product’s functions blatantly violate privacy laws in Germany.
Sources have reported that the version bought by the government had certain features disabled in order to skirt around the country’s laws, but this news isn’t assuaging German citizens’ fears.
9 to 5 Mac reported details about the spyware:
“NSO Group makes spyware called Pegasus, which is sold to government and law enforcement agencies. The company purchases so-called zero-day vulnerabilities (ones that are unknown to Apple) from hackers, and its software is said to be capable of mounting zero-click exploits – where no user interaction is required by the target.
In particular, it’s reported that simply receiving a particular iMessage – without opening it or interacting with it in any way – can allow an iPhone to be compromised, with personal data exposed.”
A German news outlet also reported on the purchase, writing:
“The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) bought notorious Pegasus spyware from the Israeli firm NSO in 2019, it was revealed Tuesday.
The federal government informed the Interior Committee of the Bundestag of the purchase in a closed-doors session, parliament sources said. That confirmed earlier reports published in German newspaper Die Zeit.
The software was procured under “the utmost secrecy,” according to Die Zeit, despite the hesitations of lawyers as the surveillance tool can do much more than German privacy laws permit.
However, the version purchased by the BKA had certain functions blocked to prevent abuse, security circles told the paper — although it is unclear how that works on a practical level.”
The scariest part of this news is that, although many would assume the spyware was purchased as part of the COVID-1984 crackdown, the purchase was actually made in 2019, and negotiations began back in 2017. Germany finally obtained the spyware and gave it to police in 2020. It will supposedly be used “in select operations concerning terrorism and organized crime.”
Many other countries have used this exact spyware to target journalists.
The German government has so far refused to comment on the purchase publicly.
The question many are asking is: How long until the United States follows Germany’s lead?