Did Indian Govt Buy Pegasus Spyware? Home Ministry's Answer Is Worrying

Meryl Sebastian
Home Minister Amit Shah looks on after arriving for the winter session of parliament in New Delhi on November 18,2019.

Seventeen Indian citizens, who were targeted in the WhatsApp hack using Pegasus spyware, on Tuesday wrote to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology asking for a detailed probe into the cyber attacks.

Their letter comes on the same day the home ministry responded in the Lok Sabha to questions on the government’s involvement in the surveillance.

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On November 1, several lawyers and activists confirmed their phones were hacked after WhatsApp said Indian users were among those who were targets of surveillance using Israeli company NSO Group’s spyware Pegasus.

The government was asked by DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran to clarify whether it was involved in using Pegasus to snoop on Indian citizens.

On Tuesday, the home ministry replied on his detailed questionnaire in the Lok Sabha but did not directly answer his questions, News18 reported.

Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy did not say whether the government had purchased Pegasus, whether it was used on Indian citizens and if there was a specific protocol for getting permission to tap WhatsApp messages and calls.

More On The WhatsApp Hack

The home ministry cited section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which “empowers the Central Government or a State Government to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of...

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