Allegations of state-sponsored phone hacking, Apple alerts, and political implications in India

| Updated: 07 November, 2023 12:47 pm IST

In recent years, India has become a battleground for various forces to shape its narrative and influence its direction. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) claim to promote human rights and social justice, but often serve as pawns in a larger geopolitical game.

Among these, Access Now stands out as a platform fuelled by significant funding from global entities such as George Soros and Pierre Omidyar. Despite its claims to defend digital rights and freedom of expression, a closer look reveals a more sinister approach.

Examining the connections between these NGOs and individuals like Aakar Patel, former head of Amnesty International, and Teesta Setalvad, a human rights activist facing allegations of fund misappropriation, highlights the role of vested interests in tarnishing India’s image.

In 2021, the Pegasus spyware targeted more than 300 phone numbers, including those of Indian opposition figures and journalists. Aakar Patel filed a lawsuit against Apple’s App Store commission structure in 2021, claiming it was unfair and anti-competitive.

However, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) rejected the case due to a lack of supporting evidence. As a result, Apple’s commission structure remains unchanged, and Patel’s claims were not legally accepted.

Access Now, Teesta Setalvad’s CJP, and Amnesty, the usual advocacy groups, have expressed concern about Apple’s alleged anti-competitive practices and fees imposed on developers on the App Store. Legal challenges, such as a complaint filed with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), have been initiated by Together We Fight Society and CJP.

The ongoing CCI investigation poses a significant threat to Apple in India, with potential fines and penalties if anti-competitive behaviour is established. This investigation could impact Apple’s operations in India and its developer relationships.

These advocacy groups are obligated to regulate what the public should consume, instead of leaving it to the public to decide. Access Now’s connections extend beyond its staff and are deeply rooted in controversial issues.

The “India on The Brink” summit was organised in 2022, co-hosted by various organisations known for their anti-India stances, including the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and the Foundation the London Story (FTLS). This summit aimed to portray India’s image and promote a narrative of genocide and sanctions.

In the present day, several Indian politicians received notifications from Apple regarding “state-sponsored attacks” on their devices. While the identity of the attackers remains unclear, what is evident is that this incident was a platform to promote Access Now’s agenda, supported by the same actors behind the “India on The Brink” event.

Such incidents, including the notorious Pegasus software row, are part of a larger pattern intended to portray India as a fascist regime and undermine its sovereignty.

The connections between Access Now, various organisations, and individuals involved in anti-India propaganda should prompt a closer examination of these entities. Access Now’s significant funding from sources such as George Soros and Pierre Omidyar highlights the geopolitical interests at play.

To ensure the integrity of its democratic processes and safeguard its national interests, India should scrutinise NGOs such as Amnesty International, Aakar Patel, Teesta Setalvad, and Access Now. The impact of such organisations in shaping public perception and international opinion requires a comprehensive review.

India’s vibrant democracy and diverse society make it a target for forces seeking to exploit divisions and further their own interests. By exposing the connections between NGOs like Access Now and the broader anti-India propaganda campaign, we can ensure that India does not bend to international pressure and maintains its geopolitical independence, safeguarding the nation’s interests and sovereignty. It is essential to remain vigilant and informed in the presence of these intricate webs of international influence.

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