WhatsApp snooping: FB India chief appears before parliamentary panel

 

Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director Facebook India, South and Central Asia, on Friday submitted to a parliamentary panel probing the WhatsApp snooping scandal that the social media platform has an end-to-end encryption and it renders any effort to access the communication between its two users "unlikely from its end", sources said.

The parliamentary standing committee on Information Technology headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday called the cyber security experts to hear their views on the issue of citizens data security and privacy.

As per the notice of the meeting, the panel had also called non-official witnesses of the WhatsApp snooping row, including BJP's former organisational secretary Govindacharya, who was represented by his lawyer in the meeting.

Representatives of WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and the officials of Telecom and Union Home Ministry and Delhi chief secretary were also called by the panel, the notice read.

WhatsApp was represented by Das, who told the panel that it is unlikely to breach the end-to-end encryption of the social media platform from its end, sources said.

Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash and officials of the Home Ministry also appeared before the panel.

In a letter to the panel's members, Tharoor had earlier said that "Cybersecurity is a major issue on our agenda" and "we are definitely going to take this up under that rubric. And we will be seeking clarifications from the government."

In October, Facebook-owned WhatsApp said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unidentified entities, using an Israeli spyware -- Pegasus.

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

Meanwhile, the 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.



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