Allegations that Indian journalists, politicians, a former election commissioner and other citizens were potentially targeted Israeli spyware Pegasus have created a controversy. They have also set loose a flood of memes commenting on the snooping scandal.
A series of reports published by The Wire in India and several other news organisations around the world claimed that more than 1,000 Indian phone numbers featured on a leaked database of more than 50,000 contacts from around the world. These contacts were potential targets of illegal cyber-surveillance using the Pegasus hacking software, the report said.
Published as part of a collaboration called the Pegasus Project, the reports said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, and West Bengal Assembly election consultant for Trinamool Congress Prashant Kishor were also on the list of potential victims of the Pegasus spyware.
Once installed on a device, the Pegasus software can harvest almost all data from the mobile phone and send it back to the handler. The NSO group that makes the software said that sells it only to “vetted governments”, prompting questions about the role of the Narendra Modi government in the affair.
The government, on its party, has stated that there has been no “unauthorised interception” of phone messages.
The reports of alleged snooping have sparked a series of reactions on social media.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi used the opportunity to take a dig at Modi.
Here is how cartoonists saw the controversy.