Pegasus Snooping Scandal: Indian Parliamentarian Files Petition Seeking Court-Monitored Probe
10:40 GMT 25.07.2021 (Updated: 10:37 GMT 19.07.2022)
It has been a week since the Pegasus spyware scandal triggered a massive political row in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is accused of having used Pegasus spyware to snoop on nearly 300 Indian phone numbers which belong to senior journalists, political opponents, government officials, and two federal ministers.
Public interest litigation has been filed with India’s Supreme Court by John Brittas, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and member of parliament’s upper house, seeking a court-monitored probe into the Pegasus spyware scandal.
Saying that snooping would impact the Right to Free Speech and Expression, Brittas said it has raised concern among Indians.
He said in a statement on Sunday that despite being very serious, the federal government of India has not cared to investigate the allegations of using Israeli spyware for snooping.
Rather it had “made only a hopeful hope that the time-tested processes in our country are well-established to ensure that unauthorised surveillance does not occur”, he added.
The CPI-M member also raised concern about the gravity of snooping as he stated that if it was done by the federal government then it was done in an unauthorised way while if any foreign agency did it then it constituted an act of external aggression.
Reportedly, around 50,000 people including politicians, diplomats, activists and journalists across the globe have reportedly been snooped on by governments using the spyware programme Pegasus, made by an Israeli firm, NSO Group, that hacks phones.
However, India’s Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnav on 19 July said in the lower house of the parliament that media reports on alleged snooping published a day before the start of the Monsoon Session of Parliament “cannot be a coincidence” and stressed that there is “no substance” behind the sensationalism.
However, he did not specify whether the Indian government was using Pegasus spyware.
NSO Group, the Israeli company which makes Pegasus spyware, claimed that the spyware was only sold to governments to prevent crime and terror attacks.