New Delhi: Attacking the Centre over the Pegasus spyware issue, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi on Tuesday alleged that the government is defending the Israeli firm NSO Group instead of probing it.
Speaking to ANI, Gogoi said, "Government's response has been disappointing. Instead of ordering a probe under judicial oversight, the Government of India is defending NSO Group. Former IT Minister had said in Parliament that an enquiry has been done into NSO by CERT-In. What happened to that probe?" "The same government which ordered a probe into NSO Group is now defending it. Former IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wanted a probe, the current IT Minister is defending it. This shows two opposite stands of the Centre," added the Congress MP.
Earlier on Tuesday, Gogoi moved a motion of adjournment of the business of the House to discuss over Pegasus issue.
This comes after The Wire reported that phone numbers of Indian Journalists appeared on the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware.
The spyware 'Pegasus' is developed by Israel-based NSO Group. The company specialises in hacking devices and caters to various governments of the world for spying purposes.
Forensic tests have also confirmed that the phones of some of these journalists were successfully infected with the Pegasus malware, the report said.
According to the report, the journalists who were targeted work for some news organisations in the country including Hindustan Times, The Hindu, India Today, Indian Express and Network18. Many of them cover matters related to Defence, Home Ministry, Election Commission and Kashmir among others.
However, Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said there is 'no substance' in the media report regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp, adding that the report was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.
Speaking in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said it can't be a coincidence that the report appeared a day before the commencement of the monsoon session of Parliament.
The Minister said any form of illegal surveillance isn't possible with "checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions".
"In India, there's a well-established procedure through which lawful interception of electronic communication is carried out for purpose of national security. Requests for lawful interceptions of electronic communication are made as per relevant rules under provisions of Sec 5(2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Sec 69 of Information Technology Act 2000. Each case of interception is approved by the competent authority," he assured.