Apple alerts kick up a political storm


Vaishnaw said that the government is playing its role in protecting the privacy and security of citizens and will initiate a probe into the matter…reports Asian Lite News

Union Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday said that Apple has been asked to join its investigation into the ‘state-sponsored’ hacking allegations.

Vaishnaw said that the government is playing its role in protecting the privacy and security of the citizens and will initiate an investigation into the matter.

In a post on X, Ashwini Vaishnaw said, “We are concerned by the statements we have seen in media from some MPs as well as others about a notification received by them from Apple. The notification received by them as per media reports mentions ‘state-sponsored attacks’ on their devices.”

“However much of the information by Apple on this issue seems vague and non-specific in nature. Apple states these notifications may be based on information that is ‘incomplete or imperfect’. It also states that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms or some attacks are not detected,” he added.

He stated Apple has also claimed that Apple IDs are securely encrypted on devices which makes it extremely difficult to access or identify them without the user’s explicit permission.

“In light of such information and widespread speculation, we have also asked Apple to join the investigation with real, accurate information on the alleged state-sponsored attacks,” he said.

Reacting to Apple’s ‘state-sponsored attack’ message to some Opposition leaders, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “First of all they are talking about an investigation, which means they have clearly said that there has been a breach. And they have not denied that the Apple notification received by the opposition leaders is wrong in any manner. And I want to know who have they spoken to.”

Pointing out that the investigation will reveal the real culprits behind this act, Chaturvedi said, “It is ridiculous that they want to target opposition leaders in India. Besides being opposition leaders, we are also Indian citizens and our fundamental right to privacy is being denied.”

Meanwhile, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal questioned calling Apple for the investigation and termed the probe “laughable”.

“Ashwini Vaishnaw, your bluff and bluster is not fooling anybody. Instead of sermonising the opposition about its role, your government must come clean. In your entire address, just like in 2021, you did not deny using spyware on opposition leaders. Your reluctance to issue a categorical denial itself shows you have a lot to hide in this matter. Your call to Apple to join an investigation is even more laughable. How can the criminal himself be the prosecutor?” Venugopal posted on X.

Apple, an American multinational, said it does not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker.

Various leaders from opposition parties said that they had received notification from Apple.

The leaders of the opposition parties including Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and Raghav Chadha have alleged that the Government was behind this attempt to breach their devices. The leaders shared the screenshot of the warning received on their devices.

However, according to the Apple support page on its website, State-sponsored attacks are highly complex, cost millions of dollars to develop, and often have a short shelf life. The vast majority of users will never be targeted by such attacks. Apple says if it discovers activity consistent with a state-sponsored attack, it will notify the targeted users in two ways.

A Threat Notification will be displayed at the top of the page after the user has signed in to Additionally, Apple will send an email and iMessage notification to the email addresses and phone numbers associated with the user’s Apple ID.

Yechury writes to Modi

Meanwhile CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on alert he received from the US multinational company ‘Apple’ about the “state-sponsored snooping” of his communication devices and said any such move “constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India to all its citizens”.

Yechury said he received an alert last night about his communication device.

“Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID,” Yechury wrote in the letter citing the alert.

“A surveillance state is the antithesis of democracy. My work is an open book and there is nothing to hide. Hence, such snooping and the accessibility to remotely access the instruments that I use can only mean that the intention is to remotely plant some information on my devices and then to incriminate me on the basis of such planted fabricated material. Given the gross misuse of Central agencies by this government headed by you, such a possibility is very real,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary said.

Several other political leaders also reported about similar alerts from Apple. TMC MP Mahua Moitra, Congress’ Pawan Khera, Shashi Tharoor and AAP MP Raghav Chaddha were among those who said they had received an alert from Apple.

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