The Union government, through its representative, on Friday said there is no proposal to ban any group named ‘NSO Group’ and it does not have any information on whether the US has blacklisted the group for providing the Pegasus spyware. Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar was responding to a written question in the Rajya Sabha on the banning of the NSO Group.
On whether the US has blacklisted the NSO Group and Candiru for providing the Pegasus spyware that was allegedly used to maliciously target journalists, embassy workers and activists, he said: “No such information is available in this ministry.”
To a question on whether the ministry has also banned the NSO Group in India, Chandrasekhar said: “There is no proposal for banning any group named ‘NSO Group’ “.
Earlier this year, a row erupted over Israeli spyware Pegasus allegedly being used for targeted surveillance in India. In October, the Supreme Court set up a three-member independent expert panel to probe the alleged use of the spyware for targeted surveillance in India.
The apex court had also observed that the state cannot get a ”free pass” every time the spectre of national security is raised and that its mere invocation cannot render the judiciary a ”mute spectator” and be the bugbear it shies away from.
Responding to another question, the minister said the government is well aware of the risk and danger posed by the growing phenomena of misuse of various media platforms and the user harms caused as a consequence by criminals and anti-national elements.
“(The) government has taken appropriate steps to address the challenges of misuse of social media,” he said.