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Centre Says It Has No Proposal To Ban NSO Group Which Owns Controversial Pegasus Spyware

Akshita Saxena
3 Dec 2021 1:18 PM GMT
Centre Says It Has No Proposal To Ban NSO Group Which Owns Controversial Pegasus Spyware
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The Central government has no proposal for banning the NSO Group in India, it told the Parliament today. The company was involved in the alleged Pegasus spyware scandal.In response to a question asked by two Rajya Sabha MPs from the Samajwadi Party, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology of India said,"No, Sir. There is no proposal for banning any group named...

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The Central government has no proposal for banning the NSO Group in India, it told the Parliament today. The company was involved in the alleged Pegasus spyware scandal.

In response to a question asked by two Rajya Sabha MPs from the Samajwadi Party, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology of India said,

"No, Sir. There is no proposal for banning any group named 'NSO group'."

MPs Vishambhar Prasad Nishad and Sukhram Singh Yadav had asked whether the US has blacklisted NSO Group and Candiru (another Israeli firm operating in cyber-surveillance space) for providing Pegasus spyware which was allegedly used to snoop on journalists, activists, etc. The members also sought to know if the IT Ministry has also banned the NSO Group in India.

No information with respect to the action taken by the US Government was available with the Indian government.

The Pegasus controversy erupted on July 18 this year, after The Wire and several other international publications published reports about the mobile numbers which were potential targets of the spyware service given by NSO company to various governments, including India. 40 Indian journalists, political leaders like Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishore, former ECI member Ashok Lavassa etc are reported to be in the list of targets, as per The Wire.

Several petitions were thereafter filed before the Top Court seeking an independent probe into the matter.

In October, the Supreme Court ordered the constitution of an independent expert committee to look into the allegations. This was after no clear stand was taken by the Centre regarding actions taken by it in the matter. The Court was also cognizant of the fact that the Union or State Governments are themselves accused to be involved in the scandal.

Read more about Supreme Court's order here, here and here.

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