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No records of lawful interceptions with the government: Ministry of Communications in Parliament

The ministry's response comes at a time when several Indian parliamentarians are demanding a probe into the reported use of Pegasus to surveil politicians, journalists, activists among many others.  Responding to a question raised by MP and leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist), John Brittas, in the Rajya Sabha about the lawful interception done by the government and maintenance of its records thereof, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said: “All the records of lawful interception are destroyed regularly as per provisions contained in Sub-rule 18 of Rule 419A of the Indian Telegraph (1st Amendment of 2014) Rules, 2014 and Sub-rule 23 of Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring, and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.” Chauhan also said that no such records are being maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs. MP John Brittas had, earlier, moved to the apex court demanding a probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) over the Pegasus probe.    Why it matters? The Pegasus spyware controversy has rocked the Parliament, wherein the Government of India is accused of spying on a slew of journalists, opposition party leaders, businessmen, activists, lawyers among many others. Pegasus is spyware, developed by Israeli firm NSO Group, which is sold only to governments and their agencies. A few days ago, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw did not categorically deny the usage or purchase of Pegasus but stated that "any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions." It is…

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