NEW DELHI: Seventeen activists allegedly targeted by Israeli spyware Pegasus through WhatsApp have written to the Parliamentary standing committee on information technology, seeking a “detailed probe into the cyber-attacks on Indian citizens.”
The letter, signed by Anand Teltumbde, Bela Bhatia, Nihalsing B Rathod, Shalini Gera, among others, states that the alleged hack “has a chilling effect on the freedom of speech and activities of civil society as a whole.”
Other signatories include Ajmal Khan, Alok Shukla, Ankit Grewal, Asish Gupta, Balla Ravindranath, Degree Prasad Chouhan, Jagdish Meshram, Mandeep Singh, Rupali Jadhav, Sushil, Vidhya, Vira Sathidar and Vivek Sundara.
A letter by 17 activists allegedly targeted by Pegasus have written to Shashi Tharoor, chairperson of the Parliamentary standing committee on information technology, asking the committee to listen to the oral testimony of some of those who were impacted by the hack. It also urges the committee to “summon relevant government departments” to answer a list of eight questions, which revolve around the government’s role in the “deployment of the Pegasus software” and “central security agencies’ awareness of the presence of NSO group employees.”
The signatories have also sought information on whether public money was spent for “these illegal and unauthorised attacks”. They also want clarity on the “individuals who were under surveillance by the central or state agencies using this or other related technology,” and ask if the government is taking steps to identify and bring to book the entities involved in the Pegasus attacks.
“Pegasus is possibly one of the most sophisticated spywares available today… The NSO Group has itself claimed that Pegasus software is sold only to security agencies of sovereign governments,” reads the letter, adding that it is “deeply disturbing” that their intimate details, personal conversations, financial transactions and private lives were and are being tracked and monitored.
“This snooping is a violation of our fundamental right to privacy and compromises our safety and security, as well as the privacy, safety and security of our families, friends, colleagues, clients and any and every citizen who has communicated with us through our mobile devices,” it adds.
Referring to a statement by Union minister for information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, which suggested that the snooping happened without “knowledge and permission of the Government of India”, the letter states that “if this is true, the Pegasus attacks have serious implications for national security.”
“The fact that foreign private companies and other foreign actors have penetrated the national telecommunications infrastructure without detection by Indian security agencies… is a violation of international norms and is a direct attack on our national sovereignty,” it adds.

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