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Democracy in danger: the BJP government uses Pegasus spyware for illegal surveillance

The alarm bells are ringing. This is the clearest sign yet that India is becoming an authoritarian regime

Democracy in danger: the BJP government uses Pegasus spyware for illegal surveillance

The alarm bells are ringing. This is the clearest sign yet that India is becoming an authoritarian regime

Democracy in danger: the BJP government uses Pegasus spyware for illegal surveillance

The alarm bells are ringing. This is the clearest sign yet that India is becoming an authoritarian regime

Democracy in danger: the BJP government uses Pegasus spyware for illegal surveillance

The alarm bells are ringing. This is the clearest sign yet that India is becoming an authoritarian regime

The Indian government has been spying on its political rivals and other critics – including activists, lawyers, and journalists – using some of the world’s most advanced spyware.

On 18th July, a global consortium of media organisations revealed an expose of a huge spying operation: a combination of powerful spyware technology and authoritarian regimes has created a terrifying threat to democracy.

Pegasus is the name of the spyware software developed by NSO Group, an Israeli company, and sold to international governments. It has the power to hack into any phone, both Android and Apple, and it’s easy to install: all it takes is a WhatsApp call to your phone. It doesn’t matter whether you answer it or not. You don’t have to click anything. All it takes is one call, and the malware is installed on your phone, working away in the background without your knowledge.

Once inside, it’s almost undetectable. And it means that nothing is private: they have access to every message you’ve ever sent, your emails, your photos, your contacts, your calendar, your location. They can even switch on your camera and microphone without you being aware of it.

Pegasus is marketed under the umbrella of “security” and “counter-terrorism”. The NSO Group claims that is only made available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in countries with good human rights records. Yet ten countries account for almost all of the numbers that have been infected: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

None of these countries are shining examples of democracy and human rights. Including India.

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