PEGASUS: THE THREAT TO DEMOCRACY
The Pegasus expose has revealed much more than what is apparent. It has critical ramifications for the society and the nation. This issue is beyond a personal or privacy issue, and beyond the 300 odd Indian phones on the list. What are the ramifications on our institutions of this invasive state surveillance?
Why are the frameworks of surveillance and privacy inadequate to think about and understand the Pegasus expose and its implications. Is the Government involved in the use of Pegasus? How has the government handled it since the expose and what does it reveal about our democracy? How does Pegasus get located in international law and the emerging efforts to control weapons-grade spyware?
And what are possible ways forward?
Seema Chishti and Prasanna S shall discuss all aspects of this issue.
Seema Chishti has been a multimedia journalist since 1990, working in print, radio, and television in English and Hindi. She was Editor, Delhi with BBC (India) from 1996 to 2006. Prior to this, she worked with BBC World Service in London (1994-96) and in the television format at HTV (1990-93). Seema has been a senior editor with The Indian Express (2006-2020) where she has published news reports, analysis on the marginalisation of minority communities, cultural change, youth, and on India’s major political developments. She broke news stories on the anti-corruption movement, on Indian judicial system, electoral politics, and on technology and politics, including state surveillance of citizens.
Her endeavour to tease out, untie and then help interpret the many strands of change in a large and diverse country like India continues. She recently co-authored the book ‘Note by Note: The India Story (1947-2017)’, a history of independent India told alongside the sound of Hindi film music for each of the years.
An independent journalist, she is a Board member for Access Now, a global non-profit working on digital rights and access. She is a Media Advisor to the National Foundation of India. She is also working on a book on inter-religious marriage in her family and the importance of breaking barriers and steering away from conservative values in our lives.
Prasanna is a Delhi based independent law practitioner who is an Advocate-on-Record in the Supreme Court. His areas of interest are Constitutional Law, Privacy and Technology law.
He has a computer science background and cut his teeth writing and managing enterprise software for over eight years before he switched to law in 2010.
He was involved in assisting the petitioners’ side in the litigation challenging the Constitutional vires of the Aadhaar project – incidentally that was also the context of the landmark decision of a unanimous nine-judge bench decision of the Supreme Court upholding the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right.
He was also involved in the “Save our privacy” campaign, which among other things has put out a civil society draft of a privacy legislation for India and advocated for radical reforms of India’s surveillance regime.
He is founding trustee of the Article 21 Trust and Project Constitutionalism and tweets @prasanna_s.