Is Pegasus Infringing Right To Privacy?
Pegasus is spyware produced by NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-arms business,
that can be installed secretly on mobile phones (and other devices) running
Android. Pegasus is capable of reading text messages, tracking calls, gathering
passwords, tracking location, and accessing the microphone and camera of the
The burning question that appears out of nowhere is if Pegasus is encroaching on
our right to privacy, then what should be our next step towards it. Hence,
Protection of Life and Personal Liberty is the subject of Article 21 of our
Constitution, which also includes the right to privacy as a integral part.
In May 2019, the global messaging WhatsApp Inc. identified a vulnerability in
its software that enabled Pegasus spywareto infiltrate the devices of WhatsApp's
users. This news was followed by a disclosure that the devices of certain
Indians were also affected, which fact was acknowledged by the then Hon'ble
Minister of Law and Electronics and Information Technology in a statement made
in the Parliament on 20th November 2019.
On 18th July 2021, a consortium of nearly 17 journalistic organisations from
around the world, including one Indian organisation, realesed the results of a
long investigative effort indicating the alleged use of the Pegasus software on
several private individuals.
In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy(Retd) vs Union Of India landmark judgement of Supreme
Court it was held that the Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right under
Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and hence it cannot be
Though, it is said that India has brought Pegasus spyware as a weapon and not as
to infringe the right to privacy. It was said by Subramanian Swamy that "Modi
Govt bought Pegasus to spy on our primary democratic institutions, politicians
and public. Govt functionaries, opposition leaders, armed forces, judiciary all
were targeted by these phone tappings. This is treason".
The committee constituted by the Supreme Court has promised that they would be
looking into allegations of snooping using the Pegasus Spyware and said
that "The committee requests any citizen of India who has reasonable cause to
suspect that his/her mobile has been compromised due to specific usage of NSO
Group Israel's Pegasus software to contact the technical committee appointed by
the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, with reasons as to why you believe your
device may have been infected with Pegasus malware, and whether you would be in
a position to allow the Technical Committee to examine your device".
That recently in Manohar Lal Sharma Vs Union of India and Ors, 2021(SC) writ
petition was filed, requesting the court investigate an accusation of the use of
such technology, its utility, need, and suspected abuse, such as Pegasus wherein
its merits and demerits were discussed.
The recent article by the New York's Times, regarding the Government of India
buying the Pegasus in 2017 deal when Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Israel
brings the Government to the Centre Stage again. As of now, we do not know the
veracity of this article but if its true then it will be a national issue.
In October 2021, the Supreme Court has appointed an Expert Committee comprising
of three members whose functioning will be overseen by retired Judge of the
Supreme Court Justice (Retd.) R. V. Raveendran, to prepare the report on the
usage of Pegasus and it is infringing the Article 21 (right to privacy) and also
Pegasus reliance on the "National Security" after a comprehensive investigation
and present it before the Hon'ble Supreme Court. Even yet, the problem still
needs to be resolved in its entirety and is still pending in front of Hon'ble
Law Article in India
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