Indian spying scandal

Pakistan has demanded a probe by United Nations against the widespread use of Israeli-developed Pegasus software to spy on politicians, journalists, and human rights activists around the world. India used the software for cyber-surveillance in gross violations of fundamental human rights.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was also among more than 50,000 targets by spyware. India even spied on its own citizens and political leaders, leading to rowdy protests in parliament. India’s top opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has also demanded an inquiry into the scandal. The French president had to switch his mobile phone after his number was among the leaked database.

The Israeli NSO Group is accused of supply spyware to governments. Interestingly, India has not denied whether it was a client of the company. The spyware is capable of switching on a phone’s camera or microphone and collecting its data. It is unsure how many of the numbers on the list were targeted but India has a long history of covert surveillance and has snooped on political and business leaders.

The Pegasus scandal is a clear violation of human rights including the right to privacy. It has also exposed how vulnerable our private data remains nowadays and that privacy cannot be taken for granted. The concept of the government snooping on its own citizens has raised fears of Orwellian society where Big Brother is listening to us. It is further worsened after being in the hands of an authoritarian government such as Modi’s India.

People are faced with the possibility of losing their personal liberty. The right to privacy and freedom of thought and expression are fundamental rights vital for a democratic nation. The revelation that India indulged in such practices against its own citizens has further weakened democracy in the country. India has already seen the erosion of democracy under the fascist BJP regime and is now stifling dissent.

It is imperative that there should a thorough probe of the extent of this scandal. It is deplorable for governments to barge into closed doors and private conversations, let alone target foreign leaders. It is necessary to bring the facts to light and hold the Indian perpetrators to account as it breaches all norms of a responsible state.

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