WhatsApp snooping scandal

On October 30, 2019, WhatsApp's parent company Facebook, Inc. confirmed that Pegasus, a sophisticated snooping software developed by Israel's NSO Group, was used to target Indian journalists, activists, lawyers and senior government officials. The journalists and activists are believed to have been targets of surveillance for a two-week period until May, when the Indian national election was held.[1][2]

The snooping scandal came out after WhatsApp filed a case in California's Northern District federal court against the NSO group, alleging the NSO group had developed the software used to infect 1,400 target devices with malware.[3]

The IT Ministry of India sought a detailed response from WhatsApp on the issue.[4] They responded that they had alerted the government on two occasions—once in May and for the second time in September 2019.[5][6][7] In response to Indian Government's order, WhatsApp informed the Computer Emergency Response Team of India in May and September that Pegasus spyware affected Indian WhatsApp users.[8]

Indian National Congress party alleged that the Narendra Modi-led government has been caught snooping on journalists, activists, lawyers and senior government officials.[9] They later alleged that their leaders, including general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, are also being targeted by this. They also claimed WhatsApp sent messages to different people whose phones were hacked. One such message was also received from the WhatsApp of Priyanka Gandhi a few months ago.[10]

Former Chief Financial officer of Infosys Mr. T.V. Mohandas Pai also demanded government to probe on the scandal and to come out with a report before the public.[11]

  1. ^ "Indian Govt. A Likely Culprit in WhatsApp Snooping Scandal, Pegasus Documents Show". HuffPost India. 1 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Several Indian Users Hit By Israeli Spyware, Says WhatsApp: 10 Points". 1 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Govt asks WhatsApp to explain breach amid phone snoop row - Times of India". The Times of India. November 2019.
  4. ^ "Indian Activists, Journalists Hit By Israeli Spyware, Govt Seeks Response From WhatsApp". Outlook (India).
  5. ^ "WhatsApp snooping: FB India chief appears before parliamentary panel". Business Standard. 15 December 2019.
  6. ^ "WhatsApp told govt about Pegasus spyware 2nd time in September, said 121 people spied on: Reports". India Today. 3 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Facebook India Head Appears Before Parliamentary Panel On WhatsApp Snooping Issue". BloombergQuint. 13 December 2019.
  8. ^ "WhatsApp snooping row: All you need to know". The Economic Times. 5 November 2019.
  9. ^ "WhatsApp told govt about Pegasus spyware 2nd time in September, said 121 people spied on: Reports". India Today.
  10. ^ "WhatsApp snooping row: Congress alleges Priyanka Gandhi's phone was also hacked". India Today.
  11. ^ "Govt needs to draw up norms to have control over Google, Facebook, Twitter: Pai". Mint. 4 November 2019.

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