- The Pegasus Project has been the latest topic of conversation, but for all the wrong reasons. It has been claimed to be one of the largest and the most blatant violation of the Fundamental Right to Privacy, which has been upheld by the Hon’ble SC in K.S.Puttaswamy case.
- Originally, Pegasus was a collaborative investigative journalism initiative undertaken by many media organisations. Pegasus is a spyware, developed by the NSO Group, which is an Israeli technology and Cyber Arms firm. It can be deployed secretly on any mobile phone , android or iOS and is capable of reading text messages, tracking calls, collecting passwords, and location tracking amongst others.
- And if this wasn’t enough to ring alarm bells in your head, it has been allegedly used by governments on journalists, opposition politicians, activists and businessmen. If this isn’t a blatant violation of privacy, then we don’t know what is.
- Taking note of the seriousness of the situation and the refusal of the Central Government to give a clear answer to whether it had availed the services of the spyware or not, the Hon’ble SC in October, 2021 had ordered a thorough inquiry into the allegations of unauthorised surveillance using this spyware. The Court also rightfully commented that the Central Government is not entitled to a free pass everytime in the name of ‘national security’.
- A three member committee was thus appointed which was overseen by Justice R.V. Raveendran, a retired Judge of the Hon’ble SC.
- The aforementioned committee has issued a public notice asking anyone who believes that they have been targeted by this spyware to come in contact with them before 7 January, 2022.
- The Notice goes on to say that if the Committee believes that the person’s device has been affected by the spyware and further investigation is required, the Committee shall then have to investigate the device. The Committee will also give an acknowledgement of having received the device for examination and will give the person a digital phone image of the records.
- The Union Government had earlier said that they would constitute a committee for the investigation of these allegations, but it was refused by the Hon’ble SC. The Court had also observed that the allegations, if found to be true, would have a chilling effect on the independence of the press- the fourth pillar of our democracy.
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