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Attempt to malign Indian democracy & institutions: Ashwini Vaishnaw on ‘Pegasus Project’

19/07/2021 at 4:24 PM

New Delhi, July 19: IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said in Lok Sabha on Monday that the ‘Pegasus Project’ was an attempt to malign our democracy and its well-established institutions.

A highly sensational story was published by a web portal last night. The press reports appeared a day before monsoon session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence, the IT Minister said in LS.

In the past, similar claims were made regarding use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports had no factual basis & were denied by all parties. Press reports of July 18 also appear to be an attempt to malign Indian democracy & its well-established institutions, Vaishnaw said.

We can’t fault those who haven’t read the news story in detail & I request all members of House to examine issues on facts & logic. The basis of this report is that there is a consortium that has got access to a leaked database of 50,000 phone numbers.

The allegation is that individuals linked to these phone numbers for being spied upon. However, the report says that the presence of a phone number in the data does not reveal whether was a device was infected by Pegasus or subjected to an attempted hack.

Without subjecting the phone to this technical analysis, it’s not possible to conclusively state whether it witnessed an attempted hack or successfully compromised. The report itself clarifies that presence of a number in list doesn’t amount to snooping, he said.

Any form of illegal surveillance isn’t possible with checks & balances in our laws &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.

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