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No ‘free pass’ for ‘national security concerns’: How SC rejected Centre’s arguments on Pegasus


In its order in the Pegasus spyware case on Wednesday, the Supreme Court refused to accept the Union government’s arguments around national security. Instead, it ordered that a committee be formed to inquire into allegations that the military-grade spyware – which is sold only to governments – had been used for unauthorised surveillance of opposition leaders, activists and journalists.

The story about Pegasus being used by governments around the world to snoop on critics was broken in July by a consortium of international media organisations. Shortly after, 12 petitions were filed in the Supreme Court seeking an investigation into the matter and answers from the government. The court began hearing the matter on August 5.

A massive breach

The July media exposes had shown that India was a hotspot for the deployment of the Israeli spyware. which gives attackers near-complete control over a victim’s phone via a zero-click attack – meaning that no action is required on the part of the victim for her data to be exposed.

The Wire published the names of 161 Indians it could identify from the list of over 50,000 phone numbers around the world that might have been infected with Pegasus. These included many journalists, top political leaders, activists, lawyers, academics, bureaucrats and even Supreme…

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