Indian politics and policy updates

The Supreme Court of India will hear a petition from journalists on Thursday calling for an independent, court-supervised investigation of allegations that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Narendra Modi) has abused spyware to monitor opposition politicians, journalists and officials.

Recently, traces of NSO Group Pegasus software were found on the smartphones of opposition political strategist Prashant Kishor and seven Indian journalists. Global survey Surveillance tools made in Israel are used by a media consortium.

The phone numbers of dozens of well-known Indian public figures, including Rahul Gandhi, leader of the Indian National Congress and other opposition politicians, former election commissioners and officials, and well-connected businessmen, also appeared on List of 50,000 people worldwide Allegedly, they have been the target of potential surveillance by NSO Group customers since 2016.

Allegations of widespread spying on high-profile Indian citizens have triggered Political storm Some critics compare it to the Watergate scandal that caused Richard Nixon to lose the presidency of the United States in the 1970s.

The manufacturer of Pegasus claims It only sells its military spyware to “censored governments” for use in national security, counter-terrorism, and law enforcement.

In the weeks after the news came to light, Indian journalists and media organizations filed multiple petitions with the Supreme Court, requesting an independent investigation — and determining who authorized any snooping.

“This is not just a matter of my privacy. It is not just a matter of my freedom of speech,” said one of the petitioners and senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (Paranjoy Guha Thakurta). ‘S phone was allegedly stolen by Pegasus. “It raises the fundamental question of the future of democracy-not only in India, but also in all over the world. “

The Society of Indian Editors filed a public lawsuit this week. It argued that it allegedly used Pegasus Surveillance reporter Put forward “serious concerns about abuse of power, abolition of power division, violation of basic privacy rights, freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of the press, subversion of the democratic process, and the implementation of serious criminal crimes.”

The Modi government refused to confirm or deny whether Israeli software was used, despite the cabinet minister’s insistence that no illegal surveillance was carried out.

Government officials and members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party have boycotted a hearing on the use of Pegasus by the Parliamentary IT Standing Committee led by Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, effectively delaying this line of investigation.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, director of Asia-Pacific policy at the global digital rights organization Access Now, said: “It’s clear that what happened was a crime, but you didn’t see the central government trying to investigate it.” “They are seeking to use any possible tool to investigate it. Obstruct the investigation into the inspiration of the Pegasus project.”

Privacy activists and digital rights groups are concerned about New Delhi’s surveillance of its citizens. At the end of 2019, WeChat Inform activists, scholars and politicians of the second printing degree, their mobile phones Hacked Through commercial Israeli spyware. The only entity blamed in New Delhi is WhatsApp.

“Of all the democracies we track around the world, our biggest concern is the impunity of surveillance in India,” Chima said. “It is happening on a large scale, let alone conducting an independent investigation or ensuring that this situation will not happen again.”

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