Stalin has sought a Supreme Court guided probe into the issue.
DMK chief MK Stalin has called for a fair inquiry into allegations that the phones of several journalists, human rights activists and politicians were hacked into by an Israeli software and that the BJP government had asked for the hack. This comes days after Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp confirmed that a number of users in India were hit by the Pegasus spyware that infected about 1,400 users of the platform worldwide. While the hack itself took place in May this year, the issue made headlines after WhatsApp accused and sued Israeli tech firm NSO Group for the program last week in an American federal court.
Stalin tweeted on Sunday, “If reports about political leaders’ phones having been under illegal surveillance are true, then the Union Government owes an explanation to the country. The Government must also launch a fair inquiry guided by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the right to privacy #WhatsAppSpygate”
If reports about political leaders’ phones having been under illegal surveillance are true, then the Union Government owes an explanation to the country.
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) November 3, 2019
The DMK’s national ally, the Indian National Congress, has said that party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was among those snooped on. “Layers of BJP Govt’s conspiracy & collusion in the illegal & unconstitutional hacking of cell phones through surveillance software ‘Pegasus’ are unraveling everyday. BJP Govt is the deployer & executor of this illegal & unconstitutional snooping & spying racket,” Congress’s media cell chief Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted along with a statement issued by the Congress party.
Layers of BJP Govt’s conspiracy & collusion in the illegal & unconstitutional hacking of cell phones through surveillance software ‘Pegasus’ are unraveling everyday.
BJP Govt is the deployer & executor of this illegal & unconstitutional snooping & spying racket.
Our Statement: pic.twitter.com/p5qbffgayC
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) November 3, 2019
Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Electronics and Information Technology issued a statement on Thursday that the government was concerned ‘at the breach of privacy of citizens of India.’ “We have asked Whatsapp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens. Govt is committed to protecting privacy of all Indian citizens.Govt agencies have a well established protocol for interception, which includes sanction and supervision from highly ranked officials in central & state governments, for clear stated reasons in national interest.” (sic) said the statement. While the NSO Group has said that it sells to government clients, WhatsApp had notified the Indian government in May 2019 soon after it pushed out an update to fix the hack.
In May, WhatsApp had sent a Vulnerability Note to CERT-in, the central nodal agency handling cyber security threats. However, Indian government sources speaking to media houses, in an attempt to bail themselves out, called the communication ‘pure technical jargon’.