Pegasus scandal: Allegations serious if media reports are true, says SC
- The Supreme Court heard a batch of nine petitions on the Pegasus spyware row on Thursday
- The court observed that the allegations are serious if the media reports are true
- Pegasus is a spyware designed by the Israel-based NSO Group
Hearing a clutch of nine petitions seeking a special investigation into the Pegasus spyware scandal on Thursday, the Supreme Court of India said “the allegations are serious if the media reports are correct”.
A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana along with Justice Surya Kant, heard the petitions.
“Reports of snooping came in 2019, I do not know whether any efforts were made to get more information. I am not going into facts of each case, some people claim phones intercepted. There is Telegraph Act for complaints,” CJI Ramana observed.
The CJI’s observation came in response to senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who is representing the petitioners, saying that Pegasus is a rogue technology that enters our lives without our knowledge and is an assault on privacy, dignity and values of the Indian Republic.
Describing for the court how Pegasus works, Sibal said, “There is an order of the California court. It reads as once activated it causes the target device to connect with the defendants’ malware. The malware would then enable and then data is transferred,” as quoted by Bar & Bench.
Pegasus, a spyware designed by the Israel-based NSO Group, can reportedly infect smartphones without the users’ knowledge and gain virtual access to all their data.
A global media investigation, dubbed the Pegasus Project, involving several leading media publications from all over the world, disclosed that 300 phones from India were on a list of potential targets on the leaked database of NSO. It was not established that all the phones were hacked.
The list of names reportedly features journalists, politicians, lawyers, activists, a Supreme Court judge and others.
NSO maintains that its spyware is only used by governments for the purposes of security and counterterrorism. Last week, Israeli government authorities raided offices of the NSO group.