Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Miscellaneous

The Protection of Privacy During the Covert Collection of Information for National Security Purposes

Findings of an Ex Officio Investigation

Keywords data protection, privacy, Pegasus, national security, external authorization
Authors Attila Péterfalvi
Author's information

Attila Péterfalvi
Attila Péterfalvi: president, Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Budapest; honorary professor of law, ELTE Law School & Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
  • Abstract

      In 2021 the Hungarian news portal Direkt36 published an article entitled “A tough Israeli spyware was exposed to have been used to target critics of the Orbán government and Hungarian journalists.” In the article, Direct36 discovered that “‘Pegasus’, the spyware of an Israeli cyber company called NSO, suitable for jailbreaking smart phones, was used against targeted Hungarian persons years ago; investigative journalists and wealthy businessmen owning media companies and their close contacts were among the persons targeted. In the course of this research, we found a number of indirect evidence indicating that Hungarian state bodies may be behind the secret surveillance.” Based on this information, the Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (Authority) launched an ex officio examination. The article summarizes the findings of this examination, with due regard to the question whether according to the laws of Hungary and the EU, privacy shall be protected during the covert gathering of information.

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