Apple's threat notifications: Cong calls Union Minister's probe assurance 'bluff'
New Delhi, Nov 1 : Hours after Union Minister for Electronics and Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the government will "get to the bottom" of alleged notifications sent by Apple to some Opposition leaders about attempts to compromise the iPhones associated with their Apple IDs, the Congress on Tuesday hit back at the Union Minister, calling his remarks "bluff and bluster".
In a post on X, Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal said: "Mr 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?" added Venugopal, who also received the alert from the iPhone maker about an alleged "state-sponsored" attack on his phone.
Earlier, Vaishnaw said that the government takes its role of protecting the privacy and security of all citizens very seriously and will investigate to get to the bottom of these notifications.
Vaishnaw said: "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."
The iPhone maker in a statement clarified that "it does not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker".
Apple in the statement said that "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 behaviour to evade detection in the future," it added.
The iPhone maker also said that Apple has sent 'Threat Notifications' to individuals whose accounts are in nearly 150 countries.
Reacting to Apple's statement, Congress leader Pawan Khera, who also received the threat notification, said: "...'We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behaviour to evade detection in the future', this one sentence in the statement issued by Apple tells a lot."
Even Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, who was the first to highlight the threat notification, said: "So IT Minister has said he would get the matter investigated... he has also stated that Apple has admitted sending these warnings. While attacking the opposition for calling this surveillance, he has stayed silent on why only opposition voices got this message. (I) Am sure he will honestly answer this and the investigation would be time-bound."
A major row erupted on Tuesday after several opposition MPs and leaders claimed to have received a notification from Apple stating that their devices could be targeted by "state-sponsored attackers".