Pegasus Project: Why I am hesitant to defend the government but must - Indian Punchline

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Pegasus Project: Activists, journalists, politicians have been spied on allegedly using mobile phone malware developed by Israel. The so-called Pegasus Project, which hit media headlines, has highlighted India in a clutch of countries where snooping of the telephones of citizens is widely practised as state policy.  The Washington Post, which spearheaded the Pegasus Project,  proposes … Continue reading "Pegasus Project: Why I am hesitant to defend the government but must"
Pegasus Project: Activists, journalists, politicians have been spied on allegedly using mobile phone malware developed by Israel.

The so-called Pegasus Project, which hit media headlines, has highlighted India in a clutch of countries where snooping of the telephones of citizens is widely practised as state policy.

The Washington Post, which spearheaded the Pegasus Project, proposes to monitor the responses from these 10 select countries. Presumably, these are early days. In fact, Hungary, one of these 10 countries, has thrown the gauntlet down at WaPo posing some uncomfortable questions:

"Have you asked the same questions of the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany or France? In the case you have, how long did it take for them to reply and how did they respond? Was there any intelligence service to help you formulate the questions?" read more

Very pertinent questions, indeed. Snooping is one of the oldest peccadilloes of man — as ancient as prostitution, perhaps. It becomes responsible voyeurism but a predatory state can abuse it. I will narrate an incident to reinforce this point.

The year was 1992. About two months into my assignment as the head of the Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan Division in the External Affairs Ministry, one afternoon I had an unannounced visitor in South Block who was in charge of India's "counter-intelligence." After pleasantries over a cup of tea, he put me at ease by coming straight to the subject to state that he had no business to transact with me but simply was curious to get acquainted with me.

He said — I won't mention his name out of great respect for my departed colleague's rare integrity and moral fibre — the IPA Division fell in the ambit of his "charge", given the high sensitivity of the work for national security. He said he wanted to meet me in person after listening to my phone conversations, watching my functioning and lifestyle and even digging into my past, sensing I was someone with…
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