Legal experts weigh in on the unfolding Pegasus controversy and suggest future steps towards surveillance reform such as parliamentary oversight, judicial oversight, and more. Where do we go from here? This has been the question on most citizens' minds as reports claimed that the Israeli firm NSO Group's Pegasus spyware has targeted several Indian politicians, journalists, and activists. Firstly, it is unclear whether there are any possible defences against this military-grade spyware which deploys a zero-click attack — essentially meaning that one doesn't have to click on a malicious link for this malware to activate; it can infect your phone because of an existing vulnerability in the system. Secondly, since NSO Group has said that it sells its products only to vetted governments and agencies, there is a deeper concern of state-sponsored surveillance. This brings us to the question: Is our current mechanism of containing surveillance efficient? Do we have enough checks and measures in place to question, say, an abuse of surveillance mission by a government or an agency? The experts MediaNama spoke to gave varied responses in this regard. While one proposed a judicial oversight mechanism with penalties in place for possible misuse, another contended that the country's existing laws and statutes are sufficient to tackle such cases. Another expert referred to the Shah Commission Report which was constituted after the 1975 Emergency in India to record institutional excesses. Many interestingly pointed towards Congress MP Manish Tewari's Private Member's Bill on regulating intelligence agencies, introduced in 2011. MediaNama…
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