New Delhi: Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw is scheduled to address the Parliament at 2 pm today on the issue of Pegasus spyware. Earlier on Monday, Vaishnaw had reiterated Centre’s stance on the issue and had said that there is ‘no substance’ in the media reports regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. He said that these reports were an attempt to ‘malign’ Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.
“Press reports of July 18 also appear to be an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions,” Vaishnaw had said.
“A highly sensational story was published by a web portal last night. Many over-the-top allegations were made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before the monsoon session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence,” the Minister had said about the Pegasus Project.
The opposition party has been demanding the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah and an explanation from the Centre over the spyware misuse.
A report on the Pegasus spyware claimed that several Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi, two union ministers, Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee and some 40 journalists were among those whose phone numbers were listed as potential targets for hacking through the Israeli spyware which is usually supplied to government agencies.
A parliamentary panel on IT headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor will likely question top government officials, including from Home Ministry, next week on allegations related to phone tapping of many using Pegasus spyware, PTI sources said on Wednesday.
The Indian government and Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, which sells Pegasus spyware worldwide, have refuted the reports so far.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government on Wednesday ordered an inter-ministerial team to look into the allegations over Israeli cyber firm NSO’s spyware. According to a report by Reuters, an anonymous Israeli source hinted that the inter-ministerial team will look into the allegations raised by countries like India and France, however, they might not review the export of the spyware.
The Government appointed team will be headed by Israel’s National Security Council, who will directly answer to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and will have experts from Defence Ministry among others.
Israeli Spyware maker NSO, on Wednesday released an official statement saying that the company will no longer be responding to media inquiries on this matter.
NSO further added that it will ‘thoroughly investigate any credible proof of misuse of its technologies’. The developer of military-grade spyware Pegasus has so far denied any misuse of its spyware.
(with inputs from PTI and ANI)