ATHENS ( Associated Press) – Greek lawmakers on Friday approved a law banning commercial spyware and reforming the rules for legally authorized wiretapping, following allegations that top government officials and journalists were surreptitiously monitored by surveillance software. was targeted from
The 156-142 vote in parliament followed two days of debate, during which opposition MPs accused the government of trying to cover up illegal surveillance. Furthermore, they demanded that the date for general elections to be held before next summer be brought forward.
Under the new law, the use, sale or distribution of spyware in Greece will be punishable by at least two years in prison. Legally authorized wiretapping as well as additional security measures for the recruitment of the Director and Deputy Directors of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) were also drafted.
Critics, including human rights groups and an independent transparency authority, argue that the changes followed a poorly planned consultation process and lacked adequate oversight. All opposition MPs voted against the bill on Friday.
In August, a top government adviser and the country’s security chief resigned following revelations that the NIS tapped the phones of socialist politician Nikos Androlakis, who was later elected leader of Greece’s third largest party.
In addition, the press reported that the cell phones of cabinet members, as well as other senior officials and journalists, could be tapped with advanced Predator spyware.
The government claims that its agencies have never used spyware, a claim disputed by its detractors.
“Was the NIS monitoring politicians other than Mr Androlakis? Chief of the Armed Forces? Members of the European Parliament?” opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, who heads the leftist Syriza party, told parliament.
“I hope the answer is ‘no’ and I look forward to hearing it clearly. But if it turns out he is lying, he will have a duty to resign.”