The Supreme Court-appointed Technical Committee looking into the usage of Pegasus against Indian citizens has issued a public notice asking those who believe they have been targeted using the spyware to come forward and say whether they would be willing to let their device be examined by the committee.
The public notice, published in newspapers across the country on 2 January, requests "any citizen of India who has reasonable cause to suspect that her/his mobile has been compromised due to specific usage of NSO grow Israel's Pegasus software (sic)" to contact the committee.
This should be done by email to firstname.lastname@example.org before noon of 7 January.
The notice goes on to say:
"In case the committee feels your reasons for suspicion of the device being infected with the malware compel a further investigation, then the committee shall request you to allow examination of your device."
The committee will give any person whose phone is collected a digital phone image for their records and deliver it back to them after completion of the tests.
What is This Investigation About?
The apex court had on 27 October set up the Technical Committee to probe the usage of Pegasus against Indian citizens after a number of petitions, including by those whose phones had been targeted by the spyware, was filed before the court.
The bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana criticised the Union government for its refusal to clarify whether it had purchased and used the spyware, and said it had to accept the prima facie case of the petitioners, including victims of Pegasus hacking, and examine their allegations.
The Technical Committee will be overseen by former apex court judge Justice RV Raveendran, and has been asked to prepare a report after a thorough inquiry and submit it to the Supreme Court "expeditiously."
The members of the Technical Committee are:
Dr Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Professor (Cyber Security and Digital Forensics) and Dean, National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Dr Prabaharan P, Professor (School of Engineering), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala.
Dr Ashwin Anil Gumaste, Institute Chair Associate Professor (Computer Science and Engineering), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra
The petitions before the court had sought a court-monitored probe into the allegations, which arose after the revelations about Pegasus usage reported around the world by the Pegasus Project (whose Indian partner was The Wire).
The terms of reference for the Technical Committee say that it is to "enquire, investigate and determine":
Whether the Pegasus suite of spyware was used on phones or other devices of the citizens of India to access stored data, eavesdrop on conversations, intercept information and/or for any other purposes.
The details of the victims and/or persons affected by such a spyware attack.
What steps/actions have been taken by the Centre after reports were published in 2019 about the hacking of WhatsApp accounts of Indian citizens, using Pegasus spyware?
Whether any Pegasus suite of spyware was acquired by the Centre, any state government, or any central or state agency for use against the citizens of India.
If any governmental agency has used the Pegasus suite of spyware on the citizens of this country, under what law, rule, guideline, protocol or lawful procedure was such a deployment made?
If any domestic entity/person has used the spyware on the citizens of this country, then is such a use authorised?
Any other matter or aspect which may be connected, ancillary or incidental to the above terms of reference, which the committee may deem fit and proper to investigate.