Pegasus snooping: Use of spying technology against civil society, regime critics, journalists always concerning, says US : The Tribune India

Washington, July 24th

The US has spoken out against the use of espionage technology against civil society, regime critics and journalists by “extrajudicial means”, even though it has claimed to have no particular insight into the Pegasus sniff in India.

The alleged use of Pegasus software to spy on politicians, journalists, human rights defenders and others in many countries, including India, has raised privacy concerns. Politicians, human rights activists and journalists were among those sold to various governments by the Israeli company NSO Group Technologies, according to an international media consortium.

“The whole idea of using this type of technology out of court against civil society, regime critics or journalists or the like is always worrying,” Dean Thompson, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told reporters during a press conference here on Friday.

The international media consortium reported on Sunday that over 300 verified cell phone numbers of over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and an incumbent judge, as well as numerous businessmen and activists in India, may have been the target of hacking by Pegasus spyware.

India on Monday categorically denied allegations related to the Pegasus snooping series, saying it was making attempts to “slander” Indian democracy. Information Technology Secretary Ashwini Vaishnaw claimed that illegal surveillance with checks and balances is not possible in the country’s laws.

“The press reports of July 18, 2021 also appear to be an attempt to slander Indian democracy and its established institutions,” Vaishnaw said in parliament. India, the minister said, has “a protocol in place when it comes to surveillance … any form of illegal surveillance is impossible with the controls and contradictions in our laws and our robust institutions.” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi said Thursday that the story of the alleged sniffing by Israeli spyware Pegasus was “fabricated, fabricated and without evidence” and that the news reports based on it incited “defamation”.

When asked about the Pegasus snooping case in India, Thompson said, “We – I have no particular insight into the India case.”

“I know this is a broader topic, but I have to say that I think we have been trying very hard to find ways for companies to ensure that their technology is not used in this way, these problems will certainly continue urge, “he said. PTI