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India Probes Alleged Phone Tapping via Apple iPhones


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India’s cybersecurity unit is investigating allegations of attempted phone tapping by opposition politicians who reported receiving warnings on their Apple iPhones about “state-sponsored attackers.” India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has initiated a probe into the complaints, according to reports from the Press Trust of India.

S. Krishnan, the secretary for the electronics and information ministry, stated, “Apple will cooperate in this probe.” The Information and Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, expressed the government’s concern over the complaints, emphasizing the government’s commitment to protecting the privacy and security of its citizens.

The issue came to the forefront when prominent opposition figures, including Rahul Gandhi, leader of the Congress party, reported that their staff members had received iPhone warnings of potential state-sponsored attacks. Other lawmakers, such as Shashi Tharoor, Mahua Moitra, and Priyanka Chaturvedi, also received similar messages on their Apple devices.

Gandhi, unflustered by the situation, remarked, “The government may do as much phone tapping as it wants, I am not bothered. It can take my phone; I am not scared.”

Notably, India’s government faced allegations in 2021 of using the controversial Pegasus spyware technology to surveil political opponents, activists, and journalists, accusations that it vehemently denied.

While Apple has not officially commented on the situation, its website provides insight into the purpose of these threat notifications, stating that they are “designed to inform and assist users who may have been targeted by state-sponsored attackers.”

The recent investigation adds another layer to the ongoing discourse surrounding privacy, security, and digital surveillance in India. As the probe unfolds, it remains to be seen how the government and Apple will address the concerns raised by opposition figures and how the findings may impact the broader discussion on digital privacy and security in the country.

The situation highlights the delicate balance between government security measures and individual privacy rights, as well as the role of technology companies like Apple in safeguarding their users from potential state-sponsored threats. As the investigation progresses, it may provide further insights into the evolving landscape of cybersecurity and data privacy in India.

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