Ashwini Vaishnaw — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new minister for information technology — was on the list of targets for surveillance through Israeli spyware Pegasus, reported news portal “The Wire” in its second set of explosive revelations shortly after the minister defended the government in parliament.
Along with Mr Vaishnaw, Prahlad Singh Patel — the junior minister for water resources — was among those whose phone numbers allegedly appeared on the list.
Earlier today, Mr Vaishnaw had responded to opposition questions on Pegasus on the floor of the Lok Sabha.
Calling it a “sensational story” the minister said the web portal’s report itself “clarifies that the presence of a number does not amount to snooping”.
Quoting NSO, the seller of Pegasus, he added, “Such services are openly available to anyone, anywhere, and anytime, and are commonly used by governmental agencies as well as by private companies worldwide. lt is also beyond dispute that the data has nothing to do with surveillance or with NSO. So there can be no factual basis to suggest that the use of the data somehow equates to surveillance”.