Pegasus: The center that cannot answer to the Supreme Court is what is this spyware, why the investigation even though it says national security?

News Desk, Amar Ujala, New Delhi

Published by: Kirtivardhan Mishra
Wednesday, 27 October 2021 Updated to 03:16 PM IST

Summary

Pegasus Snooping Row: What is the Pegasus case, how was it used, why did the Supreme Court consider this matter and what was the reason for the court decision?

Supreme Court order in the Pegasus case.

Supreme Court order in the Pegasus case.
– Photo: Amar Ujala

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Pegasus Snooping Row: The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to set up a three-member expert committee to investigate the Pegasus case. Due to several technical shortcomings in the matter, the Supreme Court held that they had basically no other option but to accept the petitioner’s arguments. In fact, in the case of Pegasus, most of the facts remain unclear. Apart from this, the central government also refused to give further information, citing it as a matter of national security only.
1. What is Pegasus Spyware?
2. How is it used?
3. Who is its target in India?
4. Why did the Supreme Court consider this matter?
5. Government argument in the Supreme Court, what is the reason for the court decision? As the name implies, spyware is a piece of software or program used for espionage work. Pegasus Spyware Developed by Israel’s NSO Group. It is primarily designed as an intelligence cyber program to help spy agencies around the world secretly capture data from almost every smartphone. Some former spies from the Israeli intelligence service say the software was made. Almost all devices fall under the list of devices that come under Pegasus’ JD. However, most of this spyware is used to break Apple’s security system. In fact, Apple is considered to be the best when it comes to protecting personal information. In such a case, Pegasus is reported to have stolen information by violating Apple’s iMessage app and Push Notification Service (PSN) protocols. This spyware can mimic any application downloaded to the iPhone and make the phone a victim of push notifications received through Apple’s servers. Surprisingly, in order to steal the information of any device, the phone does not need to have Pegasus spyware, instead the hacker only needs to know the targeted phone number. This allows the spyware system to automatically enter the target’s network and target it. However, this system is not always successful, as many operating systems update security protocols after they have been updated. However, one way to protect the Pegasus target cell phone is to change the target phone’s default browser. The French non-profit media organization Forbidden Stories has leaked a list of about 50,000 mobile numbers targeted by Pegasus spyware, of which only 1,500 have been identified. The list was first released on July 18, including the names of 161 Indians. Names like many heads of state, politicians, activists, students, lawyers and journalists came out. However, the NSO Group has consistently maintained that the spyware was provided only to governments in the country and only to people whose names are on the leaked list, so that their mobiles do not need to be hacked. Rahul Gandhi, political adviser Prashant Kishore, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, IAS officer Ashwini Vaishnav (current Railways) and IT Minister are the political faces in India who fear being targeted by this spyware. ), Including 14 names, including Praveen Togadia of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Apart from this, the names of constitutional officials and activists are also on the list, including the name of former Election Commission Commissioner Ashok Lavasa. The list also includes Alok Verma, Rakesh Asthana and officer Rakesh Sharma. Activists and academics include Rona Wilson, Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen and Gautam Navlakha among 40 others. Anil Ambani is a big name in business. Apart from this, many followers of the Dalai Lama are suspected of spying from the Pegasus. MK Venu and Siddharth Varadarajan of The Wire, Sushant Singh, a former journalist with the Indian Express, Shishir Gupta of the Hindustan Times, and Vijeta Singh, a Hindu, are among the 29 suspected Indian journalists targeted by the spyware. The government has been saying from the beginning that there is no need to investigate the espionage scandal. Although the issue has been repeatedly raised by the opposition in Parliament, the government continues to refuse to give a clear answer or to investigate the matter. Eventually, the entire rainy season stopped. Meanwhile, several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a hearing on the Pegasus case. Among those who filed the petition were journalists like serial petitioner ML Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta Prem Shankar Jha and N Ram. The court allowed all the petitions to be heard together. The matter was first heard on August 5. Following some further inquiries, the central government filed a limited affidavit on August 16 stating that the allegations against Pegasus were based solely on panic and unconfirmed media reports. However, the government has talked about setting up a committee of experts working to eliminate the false stories running in the Pegasus espionage case. However, the Supreme Court was not satisfied with the answer given by the Center and when asked by the government to provide more details, the government argued that it could not provide further details on the use of Pegasus as it was a matter of national security. The court said orally that it could not force the government to give more information on security, but only wanted to know if people’s phones had been hacked. The court reminded Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the government, in 2019 that the government itself had admitted that some WhatsApp users had been affected by Pegasus spyware. Chief Justice NV Ramanna expressed dissatisfaction that the Center had not given a detailed answer despite the Supreme Court making these observations and said it was looking into the matter of setting up a committee of experts to look into the matter. After all, the central government did not provide further information. The Supreme Court reserved its interim order on September 13. This time, however, the court gave the government a chance to reconsider. On September 23, the court ordered the lawyer involved in the case to set up a technical committee for hearing next week. Meanwhile, there has been a delay in getting these orders from the Supreme Court. CJI Ramanna himself said that many experts refused to be members of the committee due to personal reasons. This delayed the order. Now on October 27, the Supreme Court finally spoke about setting up a committee to look into the technical aspects of the matter.

Expansion

Pegasus Snooping Row: The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to set up a three-member expert committee to investigate the Pegasus case. Due to several technical shortcomings in the matter, the Supreme Court held that they had basically no other option but to accept the arguments of the petitioner. In fact, in the case of Pegasus, most of the facts remain unclear. Apart from this, the central government also refused to give further information, citing it as a matter of national security only.

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