Not only the Federal Criminal Police Office, but also the Federal Intelligence Service use spyware from the Israeli company NSO Group. This is what NDR, WDR, Southgerman newspaper and the Timewho are involved in research by the non-profit organization “Forbidden Stories”.
The federal government is said to have concealed from the parliamentary control body that the German foreign secret service has been using the software for a long time. It is not known exactly where the BND Pegasus is deployed, writes the NDR.
In September of this year, the research network announced that the BKA had acquired a modified version of Pegasus. Chancellor Angela Merkel then emphasized that the federal government was acting “on the basis of law and order”.
Adapted to the German legal situation
Representatives of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Criminal Police Office had previously informed the Bundestag Interior Committee about the procurement of the software for the BKA in a non-public meeting. The MPs learned that the spyware had been used in several cases for law enforcement and security purposes. The BKA does not use the standard version of the software, but a version that is adapted to the legal situation in Germany.
The software can be secretly installed on an iPhone or Android smartphone via vulnerabilities without the affected person suspecting anything. With Pegasus, attackers gain complete control over the smartphone and can also monitor encrypted chats and conversations. The software can also access files and photos and secretly activate the cell phone’s camera and microphone.
Also spied on journalists
According to Amnesty International’s research, journalists, human rights activists and politicians were spied on. NSO customers were identified in eleven countries: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Togo and the United Arab Emirates.
NSO had declared that it would only sell the technology to verified government agencies for the sole purpose of combating terrorism and crime. Recently, however, a British court concluded that that the Emir of Dubai used the software against his ex-wife and her lawyers.