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EU Commissioner: Unlawful surveillance unacceptable

At a plenary of the European Parliament on the use of spy softwares, European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said all member states had an obligation to protect their citizens from unlawful state surveillance, in physical reality as well as in cyberspace.

“We condemn interference in private communication as that runs afoul of democratic values and constitutes an infringement on fundmental rights,” he told the plenary in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

The European Commission expects all member states to rigorously review all reports on the use of spy software to avoid unlawful activities, he said. If the software was deployed unlawfully, victims must be given the opportunity for legal redress, he said.

Sandor Ronai, an MEP of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), slammed the Orban government’s treatment of spy softwares as “proof that [the government] is unable to abide by the rule of law.” As a result of their approach, Hungarian inflation is high in European comparison, EU funds are withheld from Hungary, and food prices have soared, he said. Meanwhile, the government “targets the last remnants of independent media” and surveilles them with spy software, he said.

Momentum MEP Katalin Cseh said it was unacceptable that “European states should use military software for the surveillance of journalists, that ministers should cordon themselves off and refuse to answer tough questions.” She called for joint action and clear regulation on the issue.

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