Rahul Gandhi challenges Centre amid iPhone snooping allegations

NEW DELHI | Updated: 31 October, 2023 6:15 pm IST
Rahul Gandhi had whipped out a printed copy of the Apple alert

NEW DELHI: In the wake of mounting allegations against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre regarding privacy breaches within the INDIA alliance, Congress’ Member of Parliament from Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi, issued a bold challenge to the government, asserting that they will not be deterred.

At a press conference, Rahul Gandhi boldly declared, “Very few people are fighting against this (government snooping) but we will not be deterred. We are not scared. The government can do however much phone tapping as it wants, and if it wants to take my phone, I am willing to give it to them.”

The allegations primarily revolve around claims made by several members of Parliament from the Opposition alliance. Opposition MPs such as TMC’s Mahua Moitra, Shiv Sena’s (UBT) Priyanka Chaturvedi, AAP’s Raghav Chadha, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and party’s publicity department head Pawan Khera, as well as former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav have taken to various platforms to assert that Apple had flagged their iPhones as being susceptible to “state-sponsored attacks.”

During this wave of allegations, Samir Saran, the President of the Reliance-backed think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), also reported that his iPhone had received a similar alert.

Rahul Gandhi, however, dismissed these claims of infringement as mere distractions created by the Modi government to divert attention from “real issues.” He said, “Earlier, I used to think number 1 is PM Modi, number 2 is Adani, and number 3 is Amit Shah, but this is wrong, number 1 is Adani, number 2 is PM Modi, and number 3 is Amit Shah. We have understood the politics of India, and now Adani ji cannot escape. Distraction politics is going on.”

 

Following Rahul Gandhi’s statements, Apple issued an official statement referring to these alerts as possible “false alarms.” The statement read, “State-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time. Detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete.

“It’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected. We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future.”

 

In response to the allegations, the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, criticised the Opposition for failing to recognise the country’s progress and engaging in what he termed destructive politics based on “false claims.” He pointed out that these alerts had been to journalists, politicians, and similar groups in 150 countries.

Ashwini Vaishnaw has now initiated a probe into the matter through India’s national nodal cybersecurity agency, CERT-In. This agency will also extend support to counterparts in the 150 countries mentioned in the alerts.

ALSO READ: Apple breach: Ex-UP CM Akhilesh, Raghav, ORF boss & Mahua claim state-sponsored attack

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