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7 Sep 2021

Deutsche Welle

Germany: Police reportedly bought NSO Group's Pegasus spyware in secret

"German police secretly bought NSO Pegasus spyware", 7 September 2021.

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...

Germany's Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that security services are only permitted to use spyware on the cellphones and computers of surveillance targets in special cases, and can only initiate certain types of operations...

The German government has been asked specifically about the use of NSO spyware three times in recent years and has largely refused to account for its use...