Pegasus Scandal: Shashi Tharoor-Led MPs Committee To Assess Facts

Pegasus Spyware Scandal: The Standing Committee on IT will discuss "citizens' data security and privacy," said a statement.

Shashi Tharoor said the Pegasus reveal was a matter of "serious national security concern"

New Delhi:

Allegations that hundreds of numbers in India were potential targets of Pegasus spyware supplied to several governments worldwide will be taken up on July 28 by a group of cross-party MPs, who also plan to question the ministries of Home, IT and Communications.

The Standing Committee on IT will discuss "citizens' data security and privacy," said a statement, adding that representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, the Home Ministry and the Ministry of Communications will be called to respond to questions.

The group had taken up a related subject in 2019 - WhatsApp's vulnerability to Pegasus spyware.

Parliament has been disrupted frequently over the last two days over reports that Israeli-made Pegasus spyware - sold only to governments - may have been used to snoop on journalists, activists and politicians.

The Wire, Washington Post and other media partners in the "Pegasus project" have revealed that the numbers of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, other opposition politicians, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two union ministers, Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee and some 40 journalists were selected as potential targets of snooping. There is no evidence that all numbers found on a leaked database were hacked.

The government has denied any role in snooping. There is no substance to the reports of spying, said new IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in parliament on Monday, hours before he was revealed to be one of the potential targets.

The country has a well-established procedure in which lawful interception of electronic communication was carried out for the purpose of national security, particularly in the case of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety, the minister said, adding that the rules ensured that "unauthorised surveillance does not occur."

Shashi Tharoor said the Pegasus reveal was a matter of "serious national security concern" and the government needed to give an explanation on it.

"It has been proved that phones examined in India had an invasion of Pegasus. Since this product is only sold to vetted governments, the question arises which government? If the Government of India says they have not done it, some other government did it, then it is a more serious national security concern," Mr Tharoor told news agency ANI.