“Ours is the Pegasus e-learning app, not the Israeli group NSO’s spyware,” says Sanoop PC, who runs the Pegasus PSC coaching institute in Koyilandy, Kozhikode. He couldn’t stop laughing while saying that. After the Pegasus snooping spyware controversy erupted, the number of app downloads from this local coaching hub doubled. In addition, countless phone calls have been received over the past week.
Last year, when the institutes were closed due to the lockdown, the idea of an app took hold of Sanoop to continue classes for students virtually. Different teacher classes from across the state are available in the Pegasus online application. “Before, there were only 1,200 downloads only by local students around Koyilandy, but now it has peaked at 3,000 in different parts of the country. Additionally, many calls in Bihari, Hindi, Tamil and many other unknown languages reach us even at midnight, I saw about 75 missed calls in the morning,” Sanoop added.
The Pegasus PSC Coaching Center was established in 2015 by four friends, including Sanoop, who were troubled by the unavailability of coaching centers in the Koyilandy region. Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, the Pegasus Coaching Center had eight groups of students. But last year it was down to three. In the midst of this adversity, this is a new problem. But Sanoop and his team saw him as an icebreaker during this difficult time. “Before, ‘Pegasus’ was a foreign name to customers, but now we don’t need to market the name anymore,” he laughed.
“At first our friends and relatives panicked and called us thinking we had tapped the calls. Our WhatsApp groups are flooded with trolls and memes about it now,” Sanoop added. The Facebook page is also overwhelmed with new friend requests. “Non-Malayalam speakers would have been confused hearing my responses in Malayalam in the Israeli language and would have immediately cut off the call out of fear,” Sanoop commented.