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The surveillance software, known as the Pegasus spyware, has created a huge uproar in recent times. Created by the Israeli cyber-intelligence firm NSO Group, it can gain control of a phone without its user's knowledge, take screenshots, find out frequent keystrokes, and look into the browser history. Some reports have also stated that a hacker can take over the control of the camera and microphone of a phone through the spyware, and thus can use it for real-time surveillance. NSO has claimed that this software is being sold to only vetted governments to protect their citizens and prevent acts of terrorism.
A leaked list, shared by a French journalism non-profit and rights group Amnesty International shows over 300 potential targets of the software in India–including politicians, journalists, human rights activists, and more.
On Wednesday, the Editors’ Guild of India (EGI) released a statement urgently demanding an independent inquiry, into this allegation of the government using the Pegasus software to spy on journalists and oppositions, under the aegis of the Supreme Court of India. NSO’s claim that it only sells the software to vetted governments raises suspicion that the government or some government agency is involved in this spying of the citizens.
In its demands, the EGI has mentioned that people with strong credibility from all walks of life should be included in the inquiry committee to ensure an unbiased and fair investigation. The guild has called this a “brazen and unconstitutional attack” on the people’s freedom of speech and the freedom of the press in the country. Whether dissent is now synonymous with terror has been raised by the Guild, too. The Guild also has mentioned that surveillance on the civil society of the country raises questions regarding the survival of the constitutional democracy in India, and in which direction our future is now headed.