Pegasus case: What is the problem?

It has long been known that the Hungarian secret services have almost unlimited powers to monitor citizens. The collection of data is not subject to strict conditions and is authorised not by an independent body, but by the Minister of Justice, who is obviously committed to the members of the government who initiate the surveillance on political grounds.

In the Pegasus case, fears have not turned out to be unfounded: the phones of Hungarian citizens were hacked without any conceivable valid national security reason.

Privacy is one of the most fundamental prerequisites of human dignity: it is a natural and fundamental need of every human being to have a domain of his or her life that is not visible to anyone but him or herself. We cannot speak of human dignity where one's every move, every contact, every secret can be monitored—that is, where one's every secret is completely transparent to the state.

Moreover, the possibility of unlimited surveillance has far-reaching consequences.

The fear of being observed encourages people to practice self-censorship in their private lives. Basic institutions of the rule of law are also violated, such as freedom of the press when journalists cannot protect their sources, and the right to a fair trial when attorney-client privilege can be compromised. These institutions are intended to counterbalance the overbearing power of the state, but their proper functioning is made impossible by surveillance. Nor can a fair election be held if those in power can see their opponents' strategies and discourage their supporters by allowing surveillance. To feel that anyone can be watched is to paralyse critical citizen action.

We consistently advocate for control over secret data collection. We will therefore use all possible legal means, both in Hungary and abroad, to expose abuses and put pressure on the government. Our aim is to change the rules on secret services so that they respect the fundamental rights of citizens.

On this page, we present all the legal work that the HCLU is doing in the Pegasus case. Click here for the Hungarian proceedings and here for the international proceedings.