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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

Parliamentary panel to discuss WhatsApp snooping case today

Pegasus is a spyware that is believed to have broken through encrypted communication systems such as WhatsApp and can monitor about smartphones

india Updated: Nov 20, 2019 07:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
On Tuesday, the government said it’s empowered to intercept, monitor and decrypt digital information in the public interest as long as its agencies follow the law.
On Tuesday, the government said it’s empowered to intercept, monitor and decrypt digital information in the public interest as long as its agencies follow the law.(AP/ Representative Image)
         

A Parliamentary panel headed by Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor will meet on Wednesday to take up the WhatsApp snooping case. The meeting will come a day after 17 people, who were victims of Pegasus snooping, wrote to the parliamentary standing committee on information technology in Delhi on Tuesday demanding an inquiry.

The IT Parliamentary panel will meet to seek response from the Ministries of Electronics & Information Technology, Home Affairs and the Department of Atomic Energy on citizens’ data security and privacy, news agency IANS reported quoting sources.

Pegasus is a spyware that is believed to have broken through encrypted communication systems such as WhatsApp and can monitor about smartphones

On Tuesday, the government said it’s “empowered” to intercept, monitor and decrypt digital information in the public interest as long as its agencies follow the law. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy told the Parliament in a written reply that information can only be intercepted by “authorised agencies as per due process of law.”

Reddy, however, didn’t answer a question on whether the government had used the services of NSO Group’s Pegasus software to snoop on calls and messages on WhatsApp Inc’s mobile platform.

According to news reports surfaced earlier this month, phones of several Indian users, including activists and human rights lawyers were hacked. Following the reports, WhatsApp said it was suing the Israeli firm NSO Group, which is said to be behind the technology that helped unnamed entities hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users.

Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked WhatsApp for a report on the allegations. Facebook-owned WhatsApp on October 31 said that Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally snooped upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware, Pegasus.

WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India accounts for about 400 million.

(With inputs from IANS).