New Delhi: Not only in May, WhatsApp had also informed the Centre in September about 121 Indian users being targeted by the Israeli spyware Pegasus. But the IT ministry said that the information was inadequate and incomplete, news agency PTI reported.
WhatsApp sources confirmed that the September warning was their second alert to the Centre. The IT ministry admitted to having received some communication from WhatsApp in the past but said that the information was not complete and full of technical jargons.
Indian Computer Emergency Response had uploaded a vulnerability note. It has been deleted later.
WhatsApp had said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users across four continents and included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.
However, WhatsApp did not divulge any more details on whose phones were tapped. The spyware allegedly allows compromised devices to give access to phone’s camera, mic, messages, e-mails and even location data.
Government officials had also questioned the “suspicious” timing of the disclosure of the hacking incident, particularly against the backdrop of Supreme Court allowing the Centre three months to come up with rules to curb misuse of social media in the country.
“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,” said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Friday.
The revelation kicked up a major row as West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Saturday claimed that she knew her messages were being snooped on.
(With PTI Inputs)