New Delhi: The Government has mysteriously avoided sending any notice to the Israeli surveillance firm, NSO Group, whose spyware Pegasus was used to hack the smartphones of journalists and civil right activists.
Anti-virus experts say the government should have questioned the NSO Group along with WhatsApp, since its intelligence agencies have contracts with this Israeli firm and they been already utilising its software in tracking terrorists who use the social media for communication.
They wondered why the Government is shying away from targeting the Israeli firm responsible for infecting the smartphones.
They point out that the Israeli firm makes no secret of the fact that it deals only with government agencies and provides them with the surveillance software to help track terrorists, drug lords and other major criminals.
As such it should have been approached first, to identify the persons who had secured the spyware from it.
The firm has claimed that it provides only lawful solutions and has questioned the use of its products for any other purpose than tracking major crimes and terrorism.
The experts, however, point out that the spyware detected by WhatsApp is totally illegal, as it had infected the mobiles without the permission or knowledge of the users; and, as such, the firm must be booked for violating the right to privacy of those whose phones were hacked.
In a tweet, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the nation is waiting for the government response. "If the BJP or the government has engaged Israeli agencies to snoop on journalists, lawyers, activists and politicians, it is a gross violation of human rights and a scandal with grave ramifications on national security," she said.
In an RTI reply, the Cyber & Information Security division of the Home Ministry has claimed it had no information on any order given to buy the Israeli spyware Pegasus.
A week before WhatsApp sued the Israeli firm in an US court, the activist had sought to know if the government has bought or ordered the purchase of Pegasus, a spyware developed by NSO Group.