- Ahead of the approaching elections, privacy and security concerns have been raised in relation to recent reports of monitoring on leaders of opposition parties in India.
- These accusations are not new; similar claims about the use of spyware, specifically Pegasus, to target members of civil society, journalists, and politicians have been made before.
Previous Allegations and Investigations:
- Over 300 mobile phone numbers in India were targeted by the Pegasus malware in 2021, according to a global investigative journalism report. These numbers included journalists, civil society members, and opposition party officials.
- On the 29 phones it looked at, the Supreme Court’s committee tasked with looking into the issue was unable to uncover any solid proof of Pegasus malware use.
- The supreme court observed that the central government had not cooperated with the probe.
Apple’s Threat Notification Feature:
- Since its activation in 2021, Apple’s threat notification feature has been utilized to warn people in about 150 different nations.
- The fact that state-sponsored attackers are well-funded and technically proficient is highlighted, but the precise triggers for these warnings are not disclosed.
- Recently, this option was activated for a number of leaders of opposition parties in India, raising questions about government monitoring.
Impact on Upcoming Elections:
- Given that a period of elections is about to begin in India, the timing of these accusations is significant.
- With general elections slated for the next year, voters in a number of states will be casting ballots in the upcoming weeks.
- Politicians from all parties are impacted by privacy concerns, as evidenced by the opposition leaders who got Apple’s warnings.
- Such surveillance gives rise to concerns about invasions of privacy, security ramifications, and effects on democracy in India.
- The inquiry must be conducted in a fair, impartial, and open manner in order to allay these worries and safeguard the democratic process.
- To keep the electoral process honest and safeguard individual rights, any monitoring that violates someone’s right to privacy needs to be carefully investigated and dealt with.