Since 18 July, a group of media organisations—including India’s The Wire—have published a series of reports on a leaked database of over 50,000 numbers listed as potential targets for surveillance by clients of the Israel-based NSO Group. The NSO Group has consistently maintained that it sells its flagship product, Pegasus, a spying software, only to governments. The Pegasus Project, as the investigation is called, involves 17 news organisations in 10 countries and is coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a French non-profit media organisation, with the technical support of Amnesty International’s Security Lab.
In a Hindi conversation with The Caravan’s Vishnu Sharma, the publication’s political editor, Hartosh Singh Bal, explained what the leak meant for India. Bal pointed out that several people from India who were listed as potential targets were critics of the ruling BJP government. While discussing the political landscape of the country, he said, “The situation is so serious that if the constitutional institutions of our democracy were functional to some extent, the government would have fallen.”