New technologies are being used to disturb and trouble people and hinder their work, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said today in strong disapproval of reports of journalists, judges, and ministers in India being targeted with Pegasus spyware. He called such acts of snooping “dirty” and “worthless”.
Mr Kumar’s comments came a day after The Wire and other publications across the world reported that phone numbers of Indian ministers, opposition leaders, and journalists, among others, had been found on a database of targets for hacking that used Israeli spyware Pegasus. This sophisticated software’s vendor, NSO, has maintained that it is sold only to governments.
“All this is dirty. This is worthless. It is not good to disturb anyone like this. All this new technology that has come…and its misuse…the effect it has…people are troubled…their work gets hindered,” Mr Kumar told the media today after his Janata Durbar in Patna.
Mr Kumar’s JDU is an ally in the BJP-led NDA government.
The government has denied any involvement saying, “The allegations regarding government surveillance on specific people have no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever.”
Without explicitly denying purchasing Pegasus from NSO, it pointed to an old Right to Information response that denied any “unauthorised interception by government agencies”.
The Wire’s analysis of data shows that most of the names were targeted between 2018 and 2019, in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha general elections but there was not enough evidence to suggest all phones had been hacked.
The report is based on a leaked database accessed by Paris-based media non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International. This was shared with a host of publications around the world for a collaborative investigation.