Pegasus, A Surveillance Scandal For The Democracy Of India


An Israeli firm of surveillance, NSO group, of technologies has developed Pegasus Spyware to assist the spies to hack into the phones. Amnesty International has released a report in which it says that this spyware can get into the phones of any individual which also includes Indians, although NSO denies the allegation and claims that the spyware is only sold to the governments; none of the nation’s government has come forward to accept the claim made by NSO. 

Pegasus spyware made by NSO can get into the phones in India, without even the knowledge of the user. To get into the target’s cell operator, the attacker doesn’t need any cell tower but only a regular network for manipulation. Emmanuel Macron, President of France, is one of the targets of this spyware which is capable of checking phone’s emails and other data. Meanwhile, the NSO group is denying the reports on maintaining “a list of potential, past or existing targets.” In the other statement, it calls the reports of Forbidden Stories, “full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories.”

On July 19, 17 international media organisations revealed the “target list” of phone numbers from all over the world. These are the numbers hacked by Pegasus spyware, an Israel NSO group. The list contains the numbers of prominent leaders, known journalists, businessmen, judges, politicians, heads of the states, and rights activists. As NSO claimed to sell the spyware to the governments, the Indian Judicial System is likely to have someone’s number on such contortions, and the Indian government has to come clean on whether it has used the public money and bought the spyware. 

Several journalists, like, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Rupesh Kumar Singh, and Prem Shankar Jha, moved the Supreme court with the petition that their phone was infiltrated with the military-grade surveillance spyware, Pegasus. The central government has denied the allegations of any “unauthorized surveillance”. According to the government, spyware is strictly for the use of government agencies to tackle terrorism, cyber and other crimes. 

As many as nine petitions are held for hearing in the court, including those by the Editors Guild of India and senior journalists, related to the matter of Pegasus snooping. According to the reports, the government is prying on its citizens and politicians using this spyware. 

Justice NV Ramana along with the second judge, Justice Surya Kant, is hearing the petitions. CJI NV Ramana has observed, “Reports of snooping came in 2019, I do not know whether any efforts were made to get more information. I am not going into the facts of each case, some people claim phones were intercepted. There is Telegraph Act for complaints”. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for journalist N Ram and Shashi Kumar, has said, “All that it requires is a phone and it enters into our lives. It is an assault on privacy, human dignity, and value of our human republic, it penetrates our national internet backbone,”. Supreme Court observed in Pegasus issue, “truth has to come out”. 

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