Malware in 5 phones, no conclusive proof of Pegasus spyware: SC panel

Malware in 5 phones, no conclusive proof of Pegasus spyware: SC panel

The Supreme Court on Thursday (August 25) said that the committee appointed by it on Pegasus spyware row found some kind of malware on five of the 29 phones examined but added that it is not conclusive that the malware is Pegasus.

The Centre did not cooperate with the probe, the technical and supervisory committees to look into the matter said.

The court will now hear the matter after four weeks.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana and also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said the panel has submitted its lengthy report in three parts and one part suggested amending the law to protect the right to privacy of citizens and ensure cyber security of the nation.

Also read: Move over Pegasus, Hermit is new spyware to watch for dissent

The report is confidential and some petitioners have demanded that a redacted version of the report should be made public. However, the apex court will take a call on what portions to release and what to redact.

A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ramana had on October 27, last year ordered a probe into the allegations of use of Israeli spyware by government agencies for targeted surveillance of politicians, journalists, and activists.

The panel, which included three experts on cyber security, digital forensics, networks, and hardware, was asked to “inquire, investigate and determine” whether Pegasus spyware was used for snooping on citizens and their probe would be monitored by a former apex court judge RV Raveendran.

Also read: NYT’s Pegasus report: Congress tears into Modi govt over snooping revelations

A massive controversy erupted last year when the NSO Group hit the headlines with the alleged use of its Pegasus software by some governments to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians and others in a number of countries, including India, triggered concerns over issues relating to privacy.

According to a report in The New York Times, the Israeli spyware Pegasus and a missile system were the “centerpieces” of a roughly $2 billion deal of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear between India and Israel in 2017.

Also read: Pegasus was centerpiece of $2 billion deal between India, Israel: Report

Opposition party Congress launched an all-out attack on the government following the New York Times report, accusing it of deceiving Parliament, duping the Supreme Court, hijacking democracy and indulging in treason, after a media report claimed India bought the Pegasus spyware from Israel as part of a defence deal in 2017.

(With inputs from agencies)

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