Idea is to derail data protection Bill: Meenakshi Lekhi

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 23, 2021

Meenakshi Lekhi   -  PTI

‘Opposition disrupting Parliament on the basis of a fake story’

The ruling BJP on Thursday fielded Union Minister and former chairperson of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Data Protection Bill Meenakshi Lekhi to flag reports in a section of the social media that Amnesty International has denied the Pegasus Project story and assert that the snooping scandal was a “fake-news conspiracy” to derail the government’s efforts to protect citizens’ privacy.

Amnesty International, by evening, issued a statement underlining that it “categorically stands by the Pegasus Project data set”. “Amnesty International categorically stands by the findings of the Pegasus Project and the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The false rumours being pushed on social media are intended to distract from the widespread unlawful targeting of journalists, activists and others that the Pegasus Project has revealed,” said a statement released on Amnesty International’s official website.

Meanwhile, the Union Minister reiterated that the chronology of the expose reveals that it was designed to upset the Government’s endeavour to usher in a new digital ecosystem wherein citizens’ privacy is better ensured.

“We must understand the chronology. I was chairing a parliamentary committee. All the members of the Opposition worked on it. The report was ready but the country was moving from one crisis to another. That report could not be brought to Parliament. But that report has been submitted to the Speaker. That is going to become the law of the land. This fake news is circulated to undermine democratic institutions. These people will do anything to fake the narrative. NSO has denied that this is the list of their customers. Amnesty International has denied and yet the Opposition is continuing to bring up this issue. This is only done to damage the integrity of the new ecosystem that the government is trying to create to secure the data of Indian citizens,” said Lekhi while addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters.

‘Tackling terrorists’

The Minister further repeated the government’s stand that phone interception and monitoring is done in India in a regulated framework of checks and balances with the purpose of protecting national security and public safety.

“We are dealing with Maoists, terrorists, we are dealing with financial offenders. There is an established mechanism and a protocol under Section 5(2) Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Section 69 of the IT Act, 2000 . Then there are issues concerning national security and public safety. Based on checks and balances, certain authorisations are given for any kind of tapping, interception, monitoring and decryption,” she said.

‘Fake story’

Lekhi charged that the Opposition is disrupting Parliament on the basis of a “fake story” which amounts to “forgery and defamation”.

“What happened in Parliament today; one of the members snatched the papers from a Minister. We have all seen the way they behaved when the Prime Minister was introducing new ministers to the House. This has to do with this fake story about Pegasus. The fact is that Amnesty has denied that list which is circulating is not an actual list… This story calls for forgery and defamation. Leaked data is a problem. I am shocked at the way fake characters are being created,” she said.

Published on July 22, 2021

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