Pegasus row: IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to speak in Parliament today
Electronics and information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw will speak in Rajya Sabha on Thursday regarding the alleged compromise of phone data of journalists and politicians.
Vaishnaw and another Union minister were among prominent people potentially targeted by Israeli phone hacking software, Pegasus, as per the report of an international investigative consortium. The report sparked a political storm on the first day of the monsoon session which saw the IT minister defend the government.
Rejected the reports that suggested India used Pegasus to hack phones of journalists, activists, Opposition leaders, and ministers, Vaishnaw called them nothing but an “attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions”.
He also said it is not a coincidence that the Pegasus report appeared a day before the commencement of the Parliament session. “A highly sensational story was published by a web portal last night. Many over-the-top allegations were made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before the monsoon session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence,” Vaishnaw said.
He said even the publisher of the report has stated that they cannot say if the numbers in the published list were under surveillance. “Without subjecting a phone to this technical analysis, it is not possible to conclusively state whether it witnessed an attack attempt or was successfully compromised,” he quoted the report to say.
To be sure, as the methodology of the investigation explains, the presence of a number does not indicate the individual’s phone was hacked — just that it was of interest. The government has denied any involvement.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, which is headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, will hold a meeting on July 28 to discuss the revelations made by the Pegasus Project, according to a notice uploaded on the Lok Sabha website.