New Delhi: The Centre on Sunday (July 18) rejected the media reports which claim surveillance of prominent personalities including journalists and politicians by the government using Israel’s Pegasus spyware.
Calling the snooping allegations false and malicious, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that there has been no unauthorised interception by government agencies.
“The allegations regarding government surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said that the government is committed to ensuring the right to privacy of all its citizens.
“India is a robust democracy that is committed to ensuring the right to privacy to all its citizens as a fundamental right. In furtherance of this commitment, it has also introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, to protect the personal data of individuals and to empower users of social media platforms,” the ministry said.
It said that the questionnaire sent to the “Government of India indicates that the story being crafted is one that is not only bereft of facts but also founded in pre-conceived conclusions”.
“Considering the fact that answers to the queries posed have already been in public domain for a long time, it also indicates poorly conducted research and lack of due diligence by the esteemed media organizations involved,” it added.
The government further said that the Right to Information application on the use of “Pegasus has been prominently reported by media and is in itself sufficient to counter any malicious claims about the alleged association between the Government of India and Pegasus”.
“India’s Minister of Electronics & IT has also spoken in detail, including in the Parliament, that there has been no unauthorised interception by government agencies,” the ministry asserted.
“In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp by Indian State. Those reports also had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties, including WhatsApp in the Indian Supreme Court,” the government said.
The statement comes after certain media outlets claimed that over 40 journalists, three major opposition figures, two serving ministers in the present government, current and former heads and officials of security organisations and scores of businesspersons were spied on by the government.