Greece to ban spyware as wiretap scandal grows

Dec 7, 2022, 4:25 PM | Updated: Dec 8, 2022, 3:21 pm
FILE - Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis holds his cellphone during a parliament session ...

FILE - Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis holds his cellphone during a parliament session in Athens, Greece, Friday Aug. 26, 2022. Lawmakers in Greece on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 were debating draft legislation to outlaw commercial spyware following weeks of allegations that senior government officials may have been targeted. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Lawmakers in Greece are set to approve plans to outlaw commercial spyware following weeks of allegations that senior government officials may have been targeted.

The revelations have hurt public support for the country’s center-right government as it faces elections in 2023.

Under the draft legislation, the use, sale or distribution of spyware in Greece will carry a penalty of a two-year minimum prison sentence. Additional safeguards were also planned for legal wiretaps as well as for hiring the director and deputy directors of the National Intelligence Service, or NIS.

Speaking in parliament Thursday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the reforms as “a bold institutional response to a challenge that — and I want to emphasize this — does not only concern our country.”

Reports in the news media that multiple members of the cabinet as well as other senior officials and journalists may have been targeted with the spyware that can snoop on cell phone calls, stored contacts and data, and access devices’ microphones and cameras have prompted a judicial investigation.

In August, a top government aide and the country’s security chief resigned following revelations that a Socialist politician who was later elected leader of Greece’s third largest party had been the subject of NIS telephone surveillance that the government insists had been legally sanctioned.

The resignations were followed by weeks of newspaper reports that senior officials were being tracked using Predator spyware, which is similar to the more widely known Pegasus surveillance software.

The government insists its agencies have never used the spyware.

The use and alleged use of surveillance software in European Union member states is also the subject of an ongoing inquiry by a European Parliament committee, whose members visited Athens last month.

Facing elections before next summer, the government of Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ center-right New Democracy party, has seen its strong lead in opinions polls in recent weeks suffer as a result of the wiretapping allegations and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Human Rights Watch described the proposed reforms as “problematic,” arguing that the government had failed to consult with the country’s own independent watchdogs on privacy or include adequate human rights safeguards.

The vote on the bill was due to take place Friday after the debate on Thursday was extended until after midnight.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Patriot missile launchers acquired from the U.S. last year are seen deployed in Warsaw, Poland, Mon...
Associated Press

Poland deploys Patriot batteries to capital city, Warsaw

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Patriot missile batteries that Poland acquired from the U.S. last year have been deployed to the country’s capital Warsaw as part of military exercise, according to Poland’s defense ministry. Poland is taking additional steps to strengthen its defensive capabilities as Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine enters its second year later this […]
1 day ago
FILE - People visit the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida...
Associated Press

Florida to begin session on Disney district, migrant flights

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers will meet Monday to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and expand a migrant relocation program, key conservative priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his expected White House run. Republican leaders of the statehouse, in coordination with DeSantis, have ordered the Legislature to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Media watchdog urges release of journalist detained in Kabul

PARIS (AP) — Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders along with 14 French media outlets and production companies on Monday called on Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to release a journalist imprisoned for a month in Kabul. In a joint statement, RSF and French media said journalist Mortaza Behboudi, with dual French and Afghan citizenship, was arrested on […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Liz Weston: ‘Bridge’ your way to Social Security

Delaying the start of Social Security benefits is a powerful way for retirees to cope with inflation, survive bad investment markets and reduce the risk they’ll run short of money. The advantages of waiting are so great that financial planners often recommend their clients tap other savings, such as retirement funds, to help them delay […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

48 arrested in Europe over encrypted app used in drug trade

BERLIN (AP) — European investigators have shut down an encrypted communication service that was used as a secure channel for organized crime, particularly in the drug trade, and arrested 48 people, German authorities said Monday. More than 70 properties were searched in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland on Friday, when the arrests were made, […]
1 day ago
NATO's Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, left, and Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, ...
Associated Press

Norway looks to donate $7.3 billion in aid to Ukraine

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Oil-rich Norway is looking to donate 75 billion kroner ($7.3 billion) to Kyiv as part of a five-year support package that would make the Scandinavian country one of the world’s biggest donors to war-torn Ukraine, the Norwegian government said Monday. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said the money would be split […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Greece to ban spyware as wiretap scandal grows