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No transaction carried out with NSO Group, defence ministry tells Rajya Sabha on Pegasus row

Israel's NSO group has been under attack following allegations that its Pegasus software was used to spy on politicians, journalists among others in several countries, including India.

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New Delhi: In the midst of the Pegasus snooping controversy, the defence ministry on Monday said it did not have any transaction with the NSO Group, which sells the spyware.

NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance software company, has been under increasing attack following allegations that its Pegasus software was used for surveillance of phones of people in several countries, including India.

“Ministry of Defence has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies,” Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha.

He was asked whether the government had carried out any transaction with the NSO Group Technologies.

The opposition parties have been targeting the central government over the snooping row and disrupting proceedings in Parliament since it met on July 19 for the Monsoon session.

IT and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnawhad had dismissed media reports on the use of Pegasus software to snoop on Indians, saying the allegations levelled just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament were aimed at maligning Indian democracy.

In a suo motu statement in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw had said that with several checks and balances being in place, “any sort of illegal surveillance” by unauthorised persons is not possible in India.

The controversy erupted after an investigation by a global media consortium based on leaked targeting data claimed evidence that the military-grade malware from the NSO Group was being used to spy on politicians, journalists, human rights activists and others.


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