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Mauritius Internet Sniffing Scandal

According to reports, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth authorized an Indian technology team to install devices for eavesdropping on internet traffic. Jugnauth acknowledged that he personally addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that a professional team be sent for this study. India has backed Prime Minister Jugnauth’s comments.

Huawei, a Chinese firm, presented the Mauritian Safe City Project. China began to thoroughly incorporate itself into Mauritius’ internet infrastructure in 2015. 4000 thousand CCTVs were placed around the country as part of the initiative. According to specialists, China might help in the game of espionage in Mauritius.

Unbeknownst to the majority of Indians, the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean has become embroiled in a political dispute over claims that Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth’s administration may have authorized the installation of surveillance equipment at a basic Web cable touchdown station by a group of Indian technicians.

Contrarily, the “Indian” aspect of the scandal didn’t surface until a beleaguered Jugnauth revealed the nationality of the “technicians” — up until that point, it had only been established that they were from another country — and claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been involved in the decision to permit them to “survey” the landing station at Baie Jacotet on the southern value of Mauritius.

Let’s review what has been learned thus far. Sunny Singh, the CEO of Mauritius Telecom, left his position on June 30, 2022, after seven years on the job. In a statement to the company’s employees, he stated, “I’m unable to move on without surrendering my principles and that’s not an option for me. Since then, MT’s chief technology officer has also left his position, cryptically stating that he, too, was “making a decision to face by my principles and do the right thing.”

In a radio appearance, Singh explained the reason he gave up: Jugnauth had asked him to approve setting up a “third party” to monitor website visits on the landing station.

On July 5, the opposition in parliament brought up the issue. Jugnauth vehemently denied giving any orders “to authorize sniffing, interception, monitoring, or recording of website visits to and from Mauritius.” But the issue didn’t end there, so the next day he added another claim, not comprehending the can of worms he was opening in the process.

Modi being included in the “survey” and adding him as a participant would not have been damaging enough for New Delhi, but Jugnauth threw more fuel to the flames by claiming that Sherry Singh’s lack of cooperation had embarrassed him vis-a-v.

is India. “What was I supposed to inform Shri Narendra as I used to be leaving the following day for India”, he mentioned.

Collectively, many people in Mauritius came to the apparent conclusion that Modi was most likely the original source of the request for the web touchdown station “survey.” Why else would Jugnauth claim Singh put him in a problematic situation?

The opposition has now called for an impartial investigation, but Jugnauth, who asked the police to start a probe into Sherry Singh, believes the constabulary should be allowed to complete its work. But as the public’s outrage grows, it is clear that the political storm won’t pass quickly.

The incident is a public relations nightmare for India and seriously jeopardizes its national security.

India and Port Louis have very close security connections. A few thousand kilometers north of Mauritius, on the Agalega Islands, India contributes to the development of military infrastructure, which is officially referred to as assistance for air and sea connections. The fact that Mauritius’ National Security Advisors—including the current one, is Ok. Ilango—have traditionally been retired intelligence and military professionals appointed by New Delhi to the sensitive position is one indication of the tight connections between the two countries. Jugnauth claimed that the opposition was “India-bashing” since this association has been prioritized in the National Meeting as a result of the web sniffing incident.

To be fair, it has not yet been conclusively shown that India is responsible for the shipment of surveillance equipment to Baie Jacotet.

The event adds to the dangers of safety overreach if India is undoubtedly the source of the sniffing initiative, whether it be to watch China or the illegal financial flows of Indian companies using Mauritius to round-trip or launder money. Moreover, two-thirds of Mauritius’s population claim Indian heritage and support strong relations with that country. However, the majority would quickly draw the line at endangering their privacy or their relations with other countries. In any event, South Africa to Malaysia is the route of the SAFE cable on the touchdown station.

This also implies that the Modi administration hasn’t learned anything from the significant scandal its deployment of Pegasus malware and adware caused last year. This might raise more concerns about the use of “sniffing” and other forms of surveillance on Indian citizens’ online activities.

It’s also possible that Jugnauth had the surveillance idea. There are undoubtedly many people in Mauritius who are willing to accept that their prime minister is capable of using such surveillance, judging by the acrimonious domestic political issue that has broken out. Why then, should India have simply agreed to assist him in such a venture?