Workshop EDPS Civil Society Summit: In spyware we trust. New tools, new problems?

Political opponents, journalists, lawyers and activists targeted worldwide with spyware: the scale of unlawful surveillance and human rights abuses is vast. The spyware scandals have exposed how governments threaten rights and freedoms, democracy and the rule of law when using these invasive surveillance tools. But the developments in the field of law enforcement show that Pegasus, which has dominated the headlines and the public debate in 2021-2022, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Law enforcement authorities across Europe and beyond look for and implement data-intensive investigative methods for their operational needs. While Cellebrite data-extractive tool is widely deployed in local police stations, transnational police operations raid entire communication networks. These practices are encouraged by legislative support of the EU lawmakers, the Europol Regulation being the best example. The aim of the Summit is to reflect on how spyware and other hacking techniques merit new approaches in terms of legal and institutional framework.

Civil society organisations and data protection authorities have contributed to the debate, from spreading awareness at early stages, to raising alarms more recently, and monitoring compliance. The Summit is an occasion to map visions and perspectives and to build a possibly common understanding of possible and required solutions.

What room should there be for surveillance technology in democratic society? Are these tools all equally dangerous, or some distinctions should be made? What is the overall enabling context for law enforcement authorities operations? How to set red lines to harmful uses? Is data protection enough to address these risks and harms or should a broader institutional environment be re-designed? What is the “to-do-list” for the EU, and what is the homework for the Member States?

The Summit will be an interactive discussion bringing together representatives of civil society organisations, public authorities and journalists, for an open strategic learning session on the fundamental rights impact of surveillance technologies.


  • Chloe Berthelemy, European Digital Rights

Opening remarks:

  • Wojciech Wiewiórowski, European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), @EU_EDPS
  • Claire Fernandez – Executive Director EDRi


  • Rebecca White Campaigner – Disrupting Surveillance Team at Amnesty Tech, @beckacita
  • Bastien Le Querrec, member of La Quadrature Du Net, @BleQuerrec
  • Eliza Triantafillou, Greek journalist at inside story, @e_triantafillou