Govt asks WhatsApp to explain breach, safeguard for protecting privacy

Union information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday Government of India is concerned at the breach of privacy of citizens of India on the messaging platform Whatsapp.

He further said that India has sought an explanation from WhatsApp for the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens.

“Government of India is concerned at the breach of privacy of citizens of India on the messaging platform WhatsApp. We have asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens,” tweeted Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

This comes after nearly 1,400 users, including diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials, in India and several were the target of a hacking spree.

The journalists and activists are believed to have been targets of surveillance for a two-week period until May when the national election was held.

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The users were informed just before WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook sued Israeli cybersecurity company NSO on Tuesday, alleging that it used WhatsApp servers to spread malware to 1,400 users across 20 countries. Pegasus, a spyware developed by NSO, was used to break into the phones during a two-week period in April.

On the other hand, the Israeli NSO, denying any wrongdoing, stated, “Our technology is not designed or licensed for use against human rights activists and journalists” and is licensed only to “vetted and legitimate government agencies”.

The spyware gave snoops access to users’ messages, calls and passwords as it took over the phone’s operating system.

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