Monitoring software: BND also uses controversial Pegasus Trojans

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In addition to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is said to have used the surveillance software Pegasus from the NSO Group. This was the result of research by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Time as well as the NDR and WDR.

According to this, the Pegasus Trojan is used more frequently within the German security authorities than was previously known. It was only recently announced that the BKA was using the controversial Pegasus Trojan. Interest is said to have existed since 2017, at that time there was a demonstration by the NSO Group for the BKA in Wiesbaden.

What the BND uses the Trojan for is not known. The spicy thing, however, is that the federal government has so far not told the parliamentary control body – which is also responsible for monitoring the BND – that the BND uses the Pegasus software. “Whether in the committees of parliament or in their answers to very specific questions from MPs – the federal government has bricked up where it can“, Said the Green MP Konstantin von Notz according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Controversial monitoring software

The surveillance software from the Israeli-based developer is extremely controversial. The range of functions is extensive and enables practically complete access to the target person’s smartphone. According to the latest reports, a slimmed-down version had to be developed for the BKA so that it complied with the legal requirements for the source TKÜ. With this, security authorities are only allowed to access the communication content on smartphones.

The Pegasus Trojan is criticized primarily because autocratic regimes are said to have used the surveillance software to take action against opposition activists, lawyers, journalists and civil rights activists. Details on this revealed Pegasus project, a research cooperation of journalists from 17 media organizations in ten countries as well as the NGO Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories.

The NSO Group itself denies the allegations. Recently judged However, a British court said the ruler of Dubai had illegally used Pegasus to monitor his ex-wife’s smartphone.

How it goes with the state Trojan

It will be interesting to see how the coming federal government aligns itself with the state Trojan. In the traffic light parties that are currently exploring, two out of three partners, the Greens and the FDP, are explicitly against the use. This is how the Greens speak in election program against the “Infiltration of technical devices“By means of source TKÜ and online searches. the FDP rejects a “potentially complete digital surveillance“By the state Trojan as well. Instead of exploiting security gaps, a focus on IT security and weak point management is required.

The SPD, however, is more indecisive. In the grand coalition with the CDU / CSU, the Social Democrats have always supported the expansion of the relevant laws. Politicians like chairwoman Saskia Esken have also spoken out against the state Trojan.

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