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Indian Supreme Court Considers Pegasus Phone Snooping Investigation

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The Supreme Court of India has begun hearing journalists’ plea for an independent court-supervised investigation of allegations that the Narendra Modi administration abused spyware to monitor opposition politicians, reporters and officials. ..

“If the report is true, there is no doubt that the claim is serious,” India’s Supreme Court judge NV Ramana said Thursday.

Traces of NSO Group’s Pegasus software were found on the smartphones of opposition political strategist Prashant Kishor and seven Indian journalists. Global survey Use of Israeli surveillance tools by the media consortium.

Phone numbers of dozens of other prominent Indian officials, including Parliamentary leader Rahul Gandhi and other opposition politicians, former election commissioners and civil servants.And a connected businessman also appeared in Global list of 50,000 people A person who has been monitored by NSO Group clients since 2016.

Extensive snooping allegations Political storm Some commentators compare it to the 1970s Watergate scandal in which Richard Nixon sacrificed the US president.

Kapil Sibal, a lawyer representing the two journalists who petitioned the court, argued that the alleged use of surveillance tools against Indian citizens was an “attack on privacy, dignity, and the values ​​of the Republic.”

Pegasus maker claims Military spyware should only be sold to “scrutinized governments” for national security, counterterrorism, and law enforcement.

Indian journalists and media organizations have set up an independent investigation and appealed to the Supreme Court to determine who allowed the snooping.

“It’s not just about my privacy, it’s not just about my freedom of expression,” said Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a journalist whose phone was allegedly endangered by Pegasus.

“It raises fundamental questions about the future of the democratic system, not just India. In the world.. “

In another legal petition, the Indian Editor’s Guild said that Pegasus was used. Spy journalists He raised “serious concerns about abuse of authority, dismantling of separation of powers, infringement of fundamental rights to privacy, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of the press, disruption of democratic processes, and the execution of serious criminal offenses.”

The Modi administration refused to confirm or refuse to use Israeli software, but ministers claim that there was no illegal surveillance.

High-ranking government officials and members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party boycotted a hearing on the use of Pegasus by Congress’s IT Standing Committee, led by Congressman Shashi Tharoor, effectively stagnating the investigation line.

“It’s clear what happened, but there were no attempts by the central government to investigate it,” said Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia-Pacific Policy Director at Access Now, a global digital rights organization. I am.

“They are trying to use as many tools as possible to frustrate inquiries about the Pegasus project revelation.”

Privacy activists and digital rights groups are worried about monitoring citizens in New Delhi. 2019, WhatsApp 20 Indian activists, scholars and politicians on their phone Was hacked By commercial Israeli spyware. WhatsApp was the only entity that New Delhi blamed.

“Of all the democracy we are tracking globally, we are most concerned about India’s surveillance immunity issue,” Chima said. “It’s happening on a large scale, and it’s even less common to do independent research or pretend that this never happens again.”

Indian Supreme Court Considers Pegasus Phone Snooping Investigation

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