Apple sues Pegasus and Indian government for breaking privacy rules



Apple, Inc. prides itself on providing absolute privacy for its users. In fact, privacy is one of the key marketing keywords with which gathered a huge consumer loyally base.

However, when the Pegasus scam came to light, Apple’s promise was indirectly broken with millions of customers’ trust being shattered.

On Tuesday, November 23, Apple filed a suit against the Israeli company NSO Group – the developers of the Pegasus spyware and the Indian administration for snooping on private messages of tens of thousands of journalists, activists and politicians.

The suit comes after India’s Supreme Court ordered a full inquiry into allegations the government used Pegasus to illegally target its citizens.

The suit was filed at a California federal court, seeking to block the NSO Group from targeting the estimated 1.65 billion iPhones in use worldwide.

The iPhone maker said it was seeking “a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services or devices”, and described the Israeli firm as “notorious hackers – amoral 21st-century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery”.

The Pegasus scandal erupted earlier this year (ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament) after an international media consortium, including The Wire in India, said phone numbers of opposition leaders and journalists critical of the BJP were found on a database of potential hacking targets.

That list included Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, and a sitting Supreme Court judge, as well as current and former heads of national security agencies, among others.

The allegations triggered furious protests by the opposition and civil society activists, with ruckus and pandemonium in Parliament, and legal petitions filed calling for a full probe into the claims.

The government resisted calls for an investigation, insisting first there was “no substance” and then citing “national security” to tell the Supreme Court it could not file a detailed affidavit on this matter.

Last month the court said “a vague denial from the government is not sufficient” and ordered an inquiry led by a retired judge, with a report to be submitted in two months.

The court – which acknowledged potential limits, in the current context, to the right to privacy, also underlined the importance of those intrusions having to “stand constitutional scrutiny”. The court also said it would not set up an expert panel, saying it would “violate settled judicial principle against bias”.

The NSO Group, which has underlined the fact it sells its spyware only to national governments, has denied wrongdoing and said its software is meant for authorities fighting terrorism and other crimes.

“Thousands of lives were saved around the world thanks to NSO Group’s technologies used by its customers. Pedophiles and terrorists can freely operate in technological safe-havens, and we provide governments lawful tools to fight it. NSO will continue to advocate for the truth,” the firm said.