A Credible Probe- Pegasus Snooping Scandal_00.1
UPSC Exam   »   Issue of Surveillance in India: Pegasus Spyware, Associated Concerns and Way ahead   »   Spyware Pegasus

A Credible Probe- Pegasus Snooping Scandal

Pegasus Snooping Scandal- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

A Credible Probe- Pegasus Snooping Scandal_50.1

 

Pegasus Snooping Scandal- Context

  • Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the institution of an independent probe into the possible misuse of Israeli spyware Pegasus.
    • It is an effective intervention to protect citizens from unlawful surveillance.
  • It is also a stern rebuff to the Government’s attempt to cover up the issue by using the bogey of ‘national security’.

Issue of Surveillance in India: Pegasus Spyware, Associated Concerns and Way ahead

 

Pegasus Snooping Scandal- Key Points

  • About Pegasus: It is military-grade spyware designed not only to grab data but also to take control of devices.
  • Issue: Earlier, nearly 300 of some 50,000 phone numbers allegedly identified for surveillance by Pegasus, belonged to Indians.
    • many phones of journalists, activists and even doctors and court staff were targets of military-grade spyware Pegasus.
  • Government’s stance: The government instead of holding or facilitating a credible inquiry, chooses to outrightly ignore the issue.
    • The government is sticking to a blanket denial of any wrongdoing, without acknowledging whether or not the spyware was available to government agencies.
    • The government said that illegal surveillance is not possible in India.
    • The government also said that the disclosure of whether or not a particular software suite was used by its agencies would compromise national security.

 

Pegasus Snooping Scandal- Supreme Court’s Judgement

    1. Surveillance, or even the knowledge that one could be spied upon, affects the way individuals exercise their rights, warranting the Court’s intervention; and
    2. There is no omnibus prohibition on judicial review merely because the spectre of national security is being raised.
  • On ‘National Security’: National security consideration can’t be used by the state “to get a free pass” for possible violation of citizens’ rights.
  • On freedom of press: The SC upheld that intrusive surveillance not only violates the right to privacy but also has a chilling effect on the freedom of the press.
  • The Supreme Court rejected the government’s inquiry on its own actions as it would command little credibility.

NITI Aayog’s Geospatial Energy Map of India

 

Pegasus Snooping Scandal- Way Forward

  • Government and its surveillance agencies must provide required information to the Supreme Court-supervised panel.
  • Government should take a cooperative stance and help the panel in conducting a credible and successful inquiry in the spyware Pegasus issue.

 

Issue of Surveillance in India: Pegasus Spyware, Associated Concerns and Way ahead

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