The Supreme Court of India heard the infamous case of Pegasus spyware today. The court set up a panel in October to look into whether the Government of India had purchased and used Pegasus spyware.
The panel, headed by Justice Raveendran, submitted its report that said the Government of India has not cooperated in the probe. The SC will also upload the report to its website, but it is likely to be a partially redacted version. Pegasus sent shockwaves through the country when a list of activists and journalists that were being tracked was leaked.
Moreover, the BJP government is also accused of using Pegasus to spy on opposition leaders. India is also not the only country shocked by the use of this sophisticated spyware. Nations around the world, including France, and an inter-ministerial investigation in Israel.
No cooperation from the Indian Government in the Pegasus case
If we look at the updates from the last six months, Pegasus started blocking some of its clients in July. Later, NSO Group, Pegasus’s parent company, came forward defending its program. The spyware was meant to be an effective anti-terrorism tool but ended up giving endless power to paranoid governments.
The Government of India refusing to cooperate with the Supreme court probe is nothing new. A similar attitude has been seen in many matters concerning digital independence. India is among the countries with the highest number of internet shutdowns.
Just last month, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) blocked 6,000 web pages in just 39 meetings. This shows rampant negligence and blind blocking of websites by the Government.
In August, the Government banned the popular VLC media player, and when IFF filed an RTI asking for a reason, the ministry replied, “No information is available with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.”
Day after day, the Government of India is digging a deeper hole for itself when it comes to digital rights and governance. It has been heavy on bans and non-transparent on its use of spyware like Pegasus. However, it remains to be seen what the court’s final judgment says. But for now, it is safe to assume that the Government’s non-cooperation is a silent admission of guilt.