Apple facing pressure from Indian government over state-sponsored hacking warning notifications, says report

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(Image credit: Palash Volvoikar/iMore)

A new report from Washington Post says that Apple is under pressure from the Indian government about notifications it sent to some iPhone users back in October. The notifications warned users about state-sponsored attacks and were sent to some prominent politically relevant personalities.

The report says Indian government officials quickly contacted Apple's India representatives to "help soften the political impact of the warnings". The report also says they also pressed the company's security expert to come up with alternative explainations for the warnings. Apple has been steadily increasing its footprint in India with manufacturing, retail stores, and more.

Indian government officials "really angry," says report

Washington Post says the authorities pressed to get Apple to change its stance on the matter, but the company didn't budge. It did, however, send out emails that noted that "detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete."

The report says, "Senior Modi administration officials called Apple India’s managing director, Virat Bhatia, after the news broke, said two people with knowledge of the matter. One of the people said Indian officials asked Apple to withdraw the warnings and say it had made a mistake. After a heated discussion, the company’s India office said the most it could do was put out a public statement that emphasized certain caveats that Apple had already listed on its tech support page about the warnings."

The report also says the warnings had gone out to public figures critical of the government, and it was allegedly later discovered that there were cases of NSO's notorious Pegasus spyware being deployed onto the phones of some of the people who received the notification.

This is the same spyware over which Apple sued NSO group back in 2021, and the state-sponsored spyware attack warning system Apple deployed is also a result of the same.

While neither the Indian prime minister's office nor Apple has issued statements on the matter, Gopal Krishna Agarwal, a national spokesman for the ruling party, BJP, said "any evidence of hacking should be presented to the Indian government for investigation." 

The report has sparked debate over the potential misuse of spyware, as well as Apple's relationship with India, which has been on a positive rise in recent years. 

Palash Volvoikar

Palash has been a technology and entertainment journalist since 2013. Starting with Android news and features, he has also worked as the news head for Wiki of Thrones, and a freelance writer for Windows Central, Observer, MakeUseOf, MySmartPrice, ThinkComputers, and others. He also worked as a writer and journalist for Android Authority, covering computing, before returning to freelancing all over town.

  • Just_Me_D
    (Laughing)….The device allegedly detected government hacking on certain political individuals and then warned those individuals of the hack. The media reported the matter, government officials allegedly got mad because they were allegedly exposed and then allegedly reached out to Apple trying to convince them to tell the world the alert was a mistake. In the end, the government is seemingly trying to save face by allegedly stating any evidence of hacking should be presented to the Indian government for investigation…..Wow! Just WOW!