A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court demanding a court-monitored investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into allegations of snooping by government agencies employing the Israeli spyware Pegasus on journalists, activists, politicians, and others.
The petition, submitted by counsel M.L.Sharma, stated that the Pegasus affair is a significant threat to Indian democracy, the judiciary, and the country’s security and that the “widespread and unaccountable” use of surveillance is “morally disfiguring.”
“Privacy, contrary to popular belief, is not about the desire to remain anonymous. It is about having one’s own place where one’s thoughts and being are not used as a tool for someone else’s objectives. It is a necessary component of dignity,” it stated.
According to the plea, the usage Pegasus was not only listening in on conversations, but it can also be used to access the complete digital imprint of one’s life, rendering helpless not just the owner of the hacked phone, but everyone in contact with him.
According to the petition, which is expected to be heard in the coming days, the national security ramifications of the findings are “enormous,” citing the “explosive rise” of surveillance technology providers as a global security and human rights crisis.
‘A cyber weapon,’ says the author.
According to the PIL, some 50,000 phone numbers were suspected to have been targeted by clients of the company, NSO Group, since 2016, which was leaked to prominent news sources.
“Pegasus is more than just a surveillance device. It is a cyber weapon being used against the Indian government. Even if authorized (which is questionable), the use of Pegasus constitutes a national security risk, according to the report.
It requested that an SIT be formed under the supervision of the Supreme Court to investigate the scandal and prosecute all accused persons and ministers for the purchase of Pegasus and alleged snooping of Indian citizens, including judges, opposition leaders, political figures, activists, advocates, and others, for vested political interests since 2017.
The plea also sought to declare the purchase of Pegasus software for snooping to be illegal and unconstitutional.