Hitting out at the Centre over alleged hacking of cell phones through Israeli surveillance software 'Pegasus', Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Sunday said the BJP stands for the 'Bharatiya Jasoos Party.'
"The rule of law and the fundamental right to privacy have become a joke under the current dispensation at the Centre. The illegal spyware -- Pegasus -- was used to hack and spy upon politicians, journalists, lawyers, civil society groups and human rights defenders," said Surjewala at a press conference in Delhi.
"The BJP government is the deployer and executor of this illegal and unconstitutional snooping and spying racket. The BJP is now the Bharatiya Jasoos Party," he said.
Talking about the reports regarding hacking of cell phones of journalist and politicians as claimed by WhatsApp, Surjewala said: "The latest documents in public domain unmistakably reveal that the illegal spyware 'Pegasus' was used to hack cell phones in the runup to the 2019 general elections to Parliament. The BJP government was fully aware of the same."
"Facebook, the owner of WhatsApp, reported the cell phones hacking through 'Pegasus' software to the Government of India in April-May 2019. In fact, it was duly noted and a vulnerability report was issued by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) in the Ministry of Information Technology," he said.
He said the report dated May 17, 2019, clearly brings out the nexus with Israeli firm NSO Group, which makes the spyware 'Pegasus'.
"It is, thus, clear that the BJP government including the Ministry of Information Technology, was fully aware of the cell phones hack in April-May 2019. Facebook has now gone on record to state that it sent a second written warning vis-a-vis the illegal 'Pegasus' software in the first week of September 2019. Yet the government decided to remain mum," he said,
Lambasting IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, he said: "Prasad met WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels on August 20, 2019. He again met Facebook vice president Nick Clegg on September 12, 2019. Yet Ravi Shankar Prasad chose to keep mum."
He said the IT Minister responded on Twitter after the news report of WhatsApp suing NSO Group over the illegal spyware 'Pegasus' came out in media on October 30.
"Till today, no clarificatory statement of facts denying the complicity of the government in illegally deploying the spyware 'Pegasus' has been issued either by Prasad or by the PMO," said Surjewala.