No plan to ban Pegasus spyware maker NSO group, Centre tells Parliament

The Pegasus spyware case has disrupted the Monsoon session of Parliament and a case related to the same has been filed in the Supreme Court as well.

It may be recalled that the NSO group was at the centre of a global controversy over the alleged misuse of its Pegasus spyware.

The union government has informed Parliament that there is no plan to ban Israel’s NSP group which makes the Pegasus spyware software. The government said this in Rajya Sabha in response to the Samajwadi Party MPs Vishambhar Prasad Nishad and Chaudhary Sukhram Singh Yadav. The centre also said that it is not aware whether the United States has blacklisted the NSO group.

It may be recalled that the NSO group was at the centre of a global controversy over the alleged misuse of its Pegasus spyware to tap phones of politicians, judicial officers, journalists and activists among others.

“Whether United States of America has blacklisted NSO Group and Candiru, for providing Pegasus spyware, which has been used to maliciously target journalists, embassy workers and activists; (b) if so, the details thereof; (c) whether the Ministry has also banned the NSO Group in India; (d) if so, the details thereof; and (e) if not, the reasons therefor?,” asked the MPs.

The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology responded negatively in its reply. Minister of State for Information and Technology, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, said in response to the question that there is no proposal to ban any group named NSO Group.

Responding to the question of a ban on the NSO group in America, the minister said, “No such information is available in this Ministry”. To the question of banning the NSO group in India, he said, “There is no proposal for banning any group named ‘NSO group’.”

The US Department of Commerce had blacklisted two Israeli spyware companies including the NSO Group in November this year. It had added them to a list of foreign establishments engaged in malicious cyber activities.

The Pegasus spyware case has disrupted the Monsoon session of Parliament and a case related to the same has been filed in the Supreme Court as well. The apex court had also formed an expert committee to look into the allegations.

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