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    SC-appointed panel finds 5 phones infected with malware, says Centre didn't cooperate

    india | IST

    SC-appointed panel finds 5 phones infected with malware, says Centre didn't cooperate

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    The Supreme Court observed that the Technical Committee has held in its report that the Centre did not cooperate. The Centre took the same stand as it did before the top court on Pegasus, the committee added.

    The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed disappointment with the Centre for not clarifying if the spyware, Pegasus, was used or deployed by the government. The apex court said it needed to examine the report to decide the future course of action.
    The top court opened the report submitted by a court-appointed panel. The court observed that the Technical Committee had held in its report that the Centre did not cooperate. The committee added that the Centre took the same stand as it did before the top court.
    As per the Technical Committee's report, five devices out of 29 phones that were investigated were infected with malware. The report held that the infected devices cannot be said to be a case of Pegasus but can result from poor cyber hygiene.
    In 2021, the court set up a three-member technical panel headed by Justice Raveendran to probe allegations of the use of Pegasus.
    Justice Raveendran's report recommended amending existing laws on surveillance, ensuring the protection of the citizen's right to privacy, establishing a mechanism for citizens to raise grievances against surveillance, and enhancing the nation's cyber security.
    The pleas are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO's spyware Pegasus. An international media consortium had reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.
    BJP attacks Congress
    Meanwhile, the BJP took the panel's inconclusive findings as a sign of victory and launched a volley of attacks on the opposition. The BJP claimed the opposition's attack on the government over the Pegasus issue was all part of a "motivated campaign" aimed at weakening Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wondered if Rahul Gandhi and the Congress will apologise.
    "Opposition parties, so called intellectuals, some NGOs and a section of media ran a sustained campaign against the government," Prasad told a press conference. He also alleged that the Congress has so much animus against Modi and his government that it resorts to falsehoods.
    "Will Rahul Gandhi and the Congress apologise," he asked, noting that the opposition leader had levelled charges like treason against the prime minister for alleged surveillance of his colleagues and opposition leaders using Pegasus.
    The prime minister was accused of crushing democracy and parliamentary proceedings were disrupted over the issue, he said, accusing the opposition parties of taking cover of PILs to move court after running "motivated" campaigns.
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