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Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday sought details from the Centre on various aspects of Pegasus, a spyware that was allegedly used for surveillance on several eminent people, including human rights activists and journalists.

Responding to Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s reply to his question in Lok Sabha, the AIMIM president sought to know which agency purchased Pegasus and deployed it in India. 

In a series of tweets, he said the holding company of NSO group, Novalpina Capital, which created Pegasus, has stated unequivocally that they sell it to only government agencies. “Which agencies bought it in India?” he asked, and sought to know if the surveillance was approved under the Telegraph Act & IT Act by the Union Home Secretary and by the Monitoring Committee, or their State counterparts.

Pointing out that Whatsapp filed detailed alerts about the breach to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) twice — in May and September — the MP wanted to know what action CERT-In and other agencies took. “The data collected by Pegasus is stored on foreign servers. While the govt keeps talking about data localisation, it allowed sensitive data of Indian citizens to be stored on a foreign server by deploying a malware. Will the govt investigate this breach in national security?” Owaisi asked.

Prasad replied: “According to Whatsapp, this spyware was developed by NSO Group and it developed and used Pegasus to to reach mobile phones of a possible number of 1,400 users globally that includes 121 users from India. These attempts to malign the government are completely misleading”.




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