WhatsApp snooping row: Set up SIT to probe issue, NCP tells Centre

Topics NCP | Government | Whatsapp Spyware


The Nationalist Congress Party on Monday demanded the setting up of an SIT to probe the illegal surveillance of some individuals in the country through WhatsApp using an Israeli-made spyware, and asked the Centre to publish a white paper on it.

On October 31, Facebook-owned company WhatsApp had said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using Israeli spyware Pegasus, leading to a furore over breach of citizens' privacy.

"Israeli company NSO (which developed Pegasus) has been roped in to snoop on some people in the country. It is worrisome. Union Minister (Communications and Electronics and Information Technology) Ravi Shankar Prasad should throw some more light on the allegations of snooping," said Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil at a press conference here.

Patil claimed Facebook had admitted some 40 people were subjected to snooping of which 14 are from Maharashtra.

He said the Centre should come forward and release the names of those targeted in this manner, adding that the current list was "limited and actual snooping may have taken place on more people".

"The list was already communicated to the Centre, and now it should be announced. It is a threat to privacy. Who made the decision and which company bore cost of snooping," he asked.

Senior leader and Mumbra-Kalwa MLA Jitendra Awhad was also present at the press meet.

Following the disclosure by WhatsApp, the Indian government has asked the messaging platform to explain the matter and list out the measures that have been taken by it to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indians.

WhatsApp had earlier said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities' spies to hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users.

These users span across four continents and included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.

However, it did not say on whose behest the phones of journalists and activists across the world were targeted.

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