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Data authority finds no problem with Pegasus application

The Data Protection Authority's investigation "has not found any violation" concerning the application and licensing of the Pegasus spy software in Hungary, NAIH head Attila Peterfalvi told a press conference on Monday.

NAIH will, however, file a criminal complaint in connection with a list of 50,000 telephone numbers and personal data of 300 individuals leaked in the Pegasus case, Peterfalvi said.

NAIH’s probe focused on the application of the software by the Hungarian secret services in wake of press reports published last summer, as well as the justice ministry’s practice of licencing such activities.

News portal Direkt36 reported last summer that the phone numbers in the list, from over 50 countries including Hungary, were used by the clients of an Israeli company to gather information on “journalists, rights activists, opposition politicians, attorneys and businessmen”. Press reports also suggested that the personal data of 300 Hungarians was released to Direkt36 news portal by Amnesty International.

Peterfalvi said in “several cases” among the ones referred to in the press “Pegasus had indeed been used”. The authority looked into some 100 permits the justice ministry had issued, and found that “they had been legitimate and justified”, Peterfalvi said. The investigation found that the secret services used Pegasus “exclusively to prevent and detect criminal and terrorist activities and for activities stipulated by relevant Hungarian laws”, he said, adding that Pegasus was “not used to unlawfully curb fundamental rights” in Hungary.

Despite allegations in the press, NAIH received “no information to support” that the Israeli defence ministry had banned Hungary from using Pegasus, Peterfalvi said.

The authority’s findings have been published on the NAIH website, however, the authority said that many details of the investigation had been classified until 2050.

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