New Delhi: A parliamentary committee will examine the WhatsApp snooping issue in which lawyers and officials of Facebook-owned WhatsApp will present their explanation in the recent Pegasus snooping row. The committee is headed by Shashi Tharoor.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that more than 120 journalists and activists in India were spied on through Pegasus, Israeli spyware. Once out in public, this caused a political uproar as Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi reportedly received a message from WhatsApp regarding the spyware as to her phone was also hacked.
According to reports, WhatsApp had informed the government twice about Indians being targeted by the Israeli spyware, but the IT ministry claimed that the information was incomplete.
In May, WhatsApp became aware of the NSO group which enabled the snooping. A total of 1,400 people worldwide were targeted by the spyware. On October 29, WhatsApp decided to sue NSO Group for misusing the messaging platform’s code to compromise user privacy.
On Tuesday, as the issue was raised in the Lok Sabha, the ministry of home affairs informed the House that 10 central agencies are authorised to tap phones, including the CBI, ED, IB.
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy informed the Lok Sabha that Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, empowers the central government or a state government to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted, any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of the country.
In response to a question from Lok Sabha member Dayanidhi Maran, Reddy said, “no blanket permission to any agency for interception or monitoring or decryption and permission from competent authority is required, according to due process of law and rules, in each case”.