INDIA bloc leaders claim ‘hacking’ attempt, Centre junks charges but assures probe | Top points

INDIA bloc leaders claim ‘hacking’ attempt, Centre junks charges but assures probe | Top points

Several opposition leaders on Tuesday said they received an alert from Apple warning them of “state-sponsored attackers trying to remotely compromise” their iPhones and alleged the government of snooping, a claim rejected by IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who assured a thorough probe into the matter.

Those who received such notifications included Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, party leaders Shashi Tharoor, Pawan Khera, KC Venugopal, Supriya Shrinate, TS Singhdeo and Bhupinder Singh Hooda; Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav.

Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Raghav Chadha, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi and some aides of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi also received the message from Apple.

As the controversy gathered momentum, Apple, in a statement, said that it “did not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker”. It further added that “the notifications may be false alarms”.

The government, while asserting that it was concerned and had ordered a probe into the incident, added that Apple had issued an advisory in nearly 150 countries and the alerts were “vague” in nature.

Here’s what we know about the Apple ‘hacking’ alert row:

  • 1. Sitaram Yechury and Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Mahua Moitra said she would be writing to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, raising concerns over the issue and demanding action.

  • 2. Speaking at a press conference, Rahul Gandhi attacked the government over the issue and said, “We are not scared. You can do as much (phone) tapping as you want, I don’t care. If you want to take my phone, I will give it to you.”

  • 3. Raking up the Adani issue, the Gandhi scion said, “The hierarchy in the country is: No. 1 Adani, No. 2 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and No. 3 Amit Shah. Narendra Modi’s soul is with Adani. The truth is that power is in the hands of someone else. As soon as Adani is touched, intelligence agencies snooping are deployed.”

  • 4. Some others who received similar alerts included think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) president Samir Saran, an OSD of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan.

  • 5. Opposition leaders accused the government of attacking democracy. “Glad to keep underemployed officials busy at the expenses of taxpayers like me! Nothing more important to do?” Shashi Tharoor tweeted.

  • 6. At an event in Lucknow, Akhilesh Yadav said, “It is a matter of regret that in a democracy, freedom and privacy are being harmed.”

  • 7. Ashwini Vaishnaw, the IT minister, rejected the opposition’s attack on the government, saying the “compulsive critics” were indulging in the politics of “distraction” as they could not tolerate the country’s progress under PM Modi’s leadership.

    He, however, assured the government “will investigate to get to the bottom of these notifications”.

  • 8. Speaking to media in Bhopal, the Union Minister said it will be a very “technical kind of investigation”, and will be taken up by Cert-In, the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents.

  • 9. MoS IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said similar “threat notifications” were sent to people in over 150 countries by Apple.

    “Our government is committed and duty-bound to protect the privacy of our citizens and we take this responsibility very seriously. The government will investigate these threat notifications and also Apple’s claims of being secure and privacy-compliant devices,” he wrote on X.

    (with inputs from PTI)

Edited By:

Prateek Chakraborty

Published On:

Nov 1, 2023

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