Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of attempting to hack the iPhones of senior opposition politicians, sparking controversy and raising concerns about privacy and security.
The accusations come after several lawmakers received warning messages from Apple, suggesting they were being targeted by state-sponsored attackers.
Apple alerts politicians
Several opposition lawmakers shared screenshots on social media of notifications they received from Apple. The notifications read: "Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID."
This alarming message raised suspicions of a potential breach of privacy and cybersecurity.
Gandhi's defiant response
In a press conference held in New Delhi, Rahul Gandhi responded to the alleged hacking attempts with defiance, saying, "Hack us all you want, but we (the opposition) will not stop questioning you," addressing Prime Minister Modi and his government.
The accusation adds to the already tense political climate in India, where opposition parties have been consistently critical of the government's actions and policies.
Govt calls for investigation
Ashwini Vaishnaw, India's Information Technology Minister, expressed concern over the lawmakers' statements and announced that the government had asked Apple to join its investigation into the matter.
The government has not confirmed or denied any involvement in the alleged hacking attempts.
Apple, in its response to the situation, clarified that it did not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker. The company acknowledged that state-sponsored attacks were evolving and that detecting them relied on imperfect and incomplete threat intelligence signals.
This raises concerns about the accuracy of such notifications and the possibility of false alarms.
Jairam Ramesh, spokesperson for Rahul Gandhi's Congress party, dismissed Apple's clarification as a "long-winded non-denial" of a security breach. This criticism underscores the seriousness of the situation and the need for a thorough investigation.
This recent controversy evokes memories of the 2021 Pegasus spyware scandal, where the Indian government was accused of using Israeli-made Pegasus spyware to surveil journalists, activists, and politicians, including Rahul Gandhi. The government has not officially responded to questions about its involvement in the purchase of Pegasus spyware for surveillance.