Installing Insecurity

Dr Suresh Mathew Dr Suresh Mathew
26 Jul 2021
Pegasus snooping scandal in India

The Pegasus snooping scandal is getting murkier by the day. The stink it raises is not going to die down so easily, especially with the government acting like an ostrich. There are contradictions galore in the versions given by the government and NSO, which is the manufacturer of the spyware. The Israeli company has unequivocally stated that it does not sell the software to any individual or organization other than governments or their agencies. On the contrary, responsible people in the government, including Ministers, are vouching that they have neither bought it nor given authority to anybody to own and operate it. Those good at procrastination believe that they can deceive people telling lies like a hot knife through butter. But they may not succeed in brazening it out all the time.

The capability of Pegasus to surreptitiously infiltrate into targeted phones to extract information, without leaving any sign of it, makes it an extremely dubious spyware. According to reports appearing in national and international media, around 300 verified phone numbers of Indians are among half a lakh numbers leaked out of Pegasus data base. There is a common thread that links Pegasus snooping across the world. Those subjected to spying are mostly politicians, activists, journalists, lawyers and academicians who have raised dissenting voices against ‘autocratic’ regimes. Among them are individuals who have sided with the oppressed people whose fundamental rights have been snatched away by insensitive governments. By no stretch of imagination, the profiles of those subjected to clandestine snooping indicate that their surveillance was necessitated by national security or public safety concerns. 

The Pegasus manufacturer has reiterated that it allows its clients, which are none else but governments and their agencies, to use the spyware for fighting crime and terror.  This indicates that either the government or some of its investigating agencies indulged in this highly condemnable activity which infringes upon the privacy of individuals. As the buck stops with the Central government, it has to go an extra mile to come clean on the issue. Intriguingly, the new Union Minister for Information Technology has asked those with complaint to approach the law enforcing agencies to file FIR and get the accused behind bars. If the government has nothing to hide, and has no skeletons in its cupboard, why should it be scared of probing the issue to get to the bottom of the truth. 

The Pegasus scandal has another crucial fall-out. It vindicates that the computers of the accused in Elgar Parishad case could have been tampered with. An American forensic lab had confirmed that questionable material had been inserted into the computer of Rona Wilson, one of the accused, by using a malware to establish his links with Maoists. The other accused, including late Fr. Stan Swamy, too had made similar complaint to the court hearing their cases. The Pegasus snooping has confirmed the possibility of their computers being meddled with to stage-manage proof so that those speak up for the Tribals and the downtrodden are made to languish behind bars. What is happening is worse than hacking by those who have become vulnerable to public criticism. Is democratic India slowly degenerating into a surveillance state?


 

Pegasus Snooping Scandal Sypware Israeli Software Pegasus Snooping Pegasus Scandal Fr. Stan Swamy Issue 31

Recent Posts

The economic devastation caused by the Pandemic has not affected one class of people.
apicture A. J. Philip
24 Jan 2022
There are 820 million chronically hungry people in the world and one-third of them live in India
apicture Irudhaya Jothi SJ
24 Jan 2022
India’s 73rd Republic Day celebration will be in a subdued way because of the unprecedented spread of Omicron
apicture Jacob Peenikaparambil
24 Jan 2022
The recent statement issued by a group of retired IFS officers in defence of this government is mean and intellectually dishonest
apicture Mathew John
24 Jan 2022
We need social movements to promote amity among diverse communities through cultural-educational mechanisms
apicture Ram Puniyani
24 Jan 2022
Goa is all set to go to polls on Valentine’s Day! As the most romantic day of the year, the buzz that surrounds the Valentine’s Day
apicture Pachu Menon
24 Jan 2022
There are only a few, a very precious few, who have used their individual brilliance to bring about change and usher in progress and Dr J Alexander IAS belongs to that category of people.
apicture Joyce Sebastian
24 Jan 2022
With no one speaking about the Gujarat model as the best one, the Congress has come out with a Punjab model as a cure for all the problems in the States
apicture Manoj Varghese
24 Jan 2022
In the good old days when public speaking was an art, many enrolled in classes to learn how to have confidence in themselves
apicture Robert Clements
24 Jan 2022
Mass exodus of ministers and BJP MLAs in Uttar Pradesh is a sign of frustration and negligence the leaders have been facing in the Yogi Adityanath team for the past several years.
apicture Manoj Varghese
17 Jan 2022