Data has been leaked that more than 50,000 people around the world may have been subjected to illegal cyber surveillance using sophisticated surveillance technology called Pegasus.
The leaked database lists the phone numbers of 300 Indians, including sitting Union ministers, politicians of opposition parties, educationalists, activists and several others within which 40 of them are journalists! It is noteworthy that this Pegasus technology will provide its service only to the vetted governments.
The data leak list includes more than 50,000 people’s phone numbers who might have been subjected to the Pegasus surveillance attack . It has been revealed that all of them are considered targets by various governments (Person of interest) and may have approached the Pegasus technology of the Israeli company NSO Group to monitor them.
The list is accessed by a non-profit news organization, Forbidden stories and Amnesty International and has been shared with 16 News organisations across the globe such as The Guardian and The Washington Post. This includes The Wire, a news agency based in India. More than 80 journalists have worked together for several months for the Pegasus project. Amnesty International’s Technical Laboratory conducted forensic analyzes.
Amnesty International has inspected 67 smartphones suspected to have been attacked. Of those, 23 were reported to be infected by Pegasus and 14 were found to have signs of an intrusion attempt on their smartphones, and while the remaining 30 had switched their cell phones , there were no clear test results.
People from India:
These Pegasus, which can infiltrate a person’s smart phone through any means such as missed call, whatsapp message, SMS , have the spy on everything on the phone such as their camera, microphone and can record everything that one does including his/her’s talking.
The data reveals that 40 journalists from India have been subjected to this unethical hacking and have been victimized by the command of an unidentified NSO group’s customer agency . The list also features the name of Thirumurugan Gandhi, the coordinator of the May 17 movement from Tamil Nadu.
The leaked data also includes the names of senior journalists working in popular media outlets such as the Hindustan Times, India Today, The Hindu and the Indian Express.
The lists include :
- Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
- Prashant Jha, Hindustan Times
- Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times
- Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
- Saikat Dutta, former Hindustan Times
- Vijaita Singh, The Hindu
- Muzamil Jaleel, The Indian Express
- Ritika Chopra, The Indian Express
- Sushant Singh, former The Indian Express
Sandeep Unnithan, India Today
- Siddharth Varadarajan, co-founder of The Wire
- Swati Chaturvedi, The Wire
- Devirupa Mitra, The Wire
- Rohini Singh, The Wire
- M.K. Venu, The Wire
- J Gopikrishnan, The Pioneer
- Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, journalist and advisor, NewsClick
- Manoranjana Gupta, editor-in-chief, Frontier TV
- Shabir Hussein Buchh, independent journalist
- Iftikar Gilani, journalist covering J&K
- Smita Sharma, independent journalist and news anchor
- Prem Shankar Jha, Indian economist, journalist
- Santosh Bhartiya, journalist and ex MP
- Deepak Gidwani, independent journalist
- Bhupinder Singh Sajjan, Punjabi journalist
- Jaspal Singh Heran, Punjabi Journalist
- Hassan Babar Nehru, lawyer and activist in J&K
- Umar Khalid, JNU scholar, currently in jail under UAPA
- Thirumurugan Gandhi, activist arrested under UAPA
- Rona Wilson, activist arrested under UAPA
- Rupali Jadhav, arrested under UAPA
- Degree Prasad Chouhan, activist
- Laxman Pant, activist
*The Print website has published the names and it has mentioned that some of the names are not shared due to concern.
The Wire reports that the list of 300 Indians suspected of being targeted by Pegasus includes two Union ministers currently in office, a Supreme Court judge and the phones of three major opposition leaders. Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, most numbers were reported to have been targeted between 2018 and 2019.
The NSO has not confirmed whether the Indian government is a customer. But the NSO, in a statement to other media outlets, including The Wire, insisted that it only sells its spyware to “verified governments.”
Two years ago, in 2019, WhatsApp sued Pegasus for hacking more than 1,400 of its customers worldwide, including its customers in India (especially academics, journalists and Dalit activists).
If the information contained in these data is true,It is an act that violates the fundamental right of a citizen’s privacy.
Government of India’s response to inquiries on the ‘Pegasus Project’ media report. pic.twitter.com/F4AxPZ8876
— ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2021
The Government of India has issued a press release explaining the allegation. It said no “unauthorized monitoring” had taken place and asserted that this was a preconceived conclusion with baseless data.
The Government of India has released the press report without even specifying the date, without disclosing which Cabinet has issued the message, and without signatures of an authority or whatsoever.
Furthermore, the report states that “no unauthorized monitoring has taken place”. It raises the sub- question that is there any authorized surveillance that has taken place?