2 senior journos move SC on Pegasus spying

Kashmir Times. Dated: 7/28/2021 12:01:04 PM

NEW DELHI, Jul 27: Senior journalists N Ram (76) of The Hindu and Sasi Kumar (69) from Kerala who is founder of India's first regional satellite TV channel Asianet have moved the Supreme Court for a probe by its sitting or former judge into the widespread spying using Israeli Pegasus spyware.

The Supreme Court is, however, yet to take on board the first PIL filed last week by Delhi-based lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma and by many others since then.

The petition by Ram and Kumar says the global investigation involving several leading publications around the world has revealed that more than 142 persons in India were identified as potential targets for surveillance using Israeli firm NSO's Pegasus spyware.

According to them, the forensic analysis of several mobile phones belonging to people listed as potential targets by the Security Lab of Amnesty International have confirmed security breaches.
It climaxed that the forensic analysis of several mobile phones belonging to persons targeted for surveillance by the Security Lab of Amnesty International have confirmed Pegasus-induced security breaches.
“The targeted surveillance using military-grade spyware is an unacceptable violation of the right to privacy which has been held to be a fundamental right under Articles 14 (equality before the law), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) by the Supreme Court,” it added.
It said the targeted hacking of phones belonging to journalists, doctors, lawyers, civil society activists, government ministers and opposition politicians “seriously compromises” the effective exercise of the fundamental right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
It has an obvious chilling effect on expression by threatening invasion into the most core and private aspects of a person's life, it claimed.
It claimed that the hack occasioned by the Pegasus spyware constituted a criminal offence punishable under interalia Section 66 (computer related offences), 66B (punishment for dishonestly receiving stolen computer resource or communication device), 66E (punishment for violation of privacy) and 66F (punishment for cyberterrorism) of the IT Act, punishable with imprisonment and/or fine.
“The attack prima facie constitutes an act of cyber-terrorism that has several grave political and security ramifications, especially considering that the devices of government ministers, senior political figures and constitutional functionaries which may contain sensitive information have been targeted,” it added.
The controversy over the alleged snooping of the smartphones is raging in India and the Opposition is paralysing the monsoon session of Parliament that began on July 19, since after The Wire web news portal started revealing names of those whose mobiles were hacked using the spyware.



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